The stage is set for Wisconsin and No. 9 Iowa to battle in a game that will define both teams’ seasons, also known as the Big Ten West Bowl.
The Badgers enter the contest coming off a solid 30-13 victory Purdue where the team dominated on the ground, finally forced turnovers and played its best second half of the season.
Iowa, on the other hand, is fresh off a bye week after losing 24-7 to the same Purdue team two weeks ago. After a 6-0 start, the Hawkeyes need a win on Saturday to get back on track and nearly lock up the Big Ten West.
Here are our official predictions for Saturday’s game:
Oct 23, 2021; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) runs past Purdue Boilermakers safety Chris Jefferson (17) on his way to a touchdown during the game at Ross-Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports
Man, am I excited for this football game. We are set for a battle of which coach wants to punt further up the field and which offense keeps running the ball despite it not working.
An over/under of 37 is beautiful in a game where each defense is among the nation’s best and each offense’s struggles are well-documented (37 is a lot of points).
Anyway, I think Wisconsin comes out as it did against Purdue with stacked lines, 12 and 22 personnel and an offensive plan that revolves solely around Chez Mellusi and Braelon Allen. If they find success like they did last weekend, Graham Mertz will not need to do much with his arm and the defense can continue its dominant play.
On the backs of 3 Nick Herbig sacks, 1-2 turnovers forced by Leo Chenal/Jack Sanborn and another lockdown day from Faion Hicks, I think Wisconsin does just enough to make things easy for the offense.
As a result, Wisconsin is able to dictate the flow of the game and, barring any special teams disasters, force Iowa to play from behind.
Prediction: Wisconsin 17, Iowa 9 (feels like 2016)
Sep 22, 2018; Iowa City, IA, USA; Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Beau Benzschawel (66) and fullback Alec Ingold (45) carry the Heartland Trophy after defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
The path to a Big Ten West title up for grabs, two football teams who mirror each other in nearly every way, and Camp Randall energized again? I can’t wait.
Turnovers and field position will decide a football game that will be lucky to see 35 combined points. It’s a massive game for Wisconsin kicker Collin Larsh, who needs to be as sharp as he has been all year long in a matchup where points will be hard to come by.
The Badger defense can turn Iowa over, but the same is true of Iowa’s defense. In a game where first downs will be hard to come by, starting field position could be the difference. Graham Mertz has to take care of the football and Wisconsin has to play with a late lead. It’s a whoever has the ball last loses kind of football game.
Prediction: Wisconsin 17, Iowa 13