Preview: Wisconsin vs Iowa


The teams: The Iowa Hawkeyes (5-1, 2-1) vs the Wisconsin Badgers (4-1, 2-0)

The time: 3 p.m. CDT, Saturday

The place: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.

The TV coverage: FOX with Jason Benetti and Brock Huard on the call, and Allison Williams on the sideline.

The last time: Iowa returned an interception for a touchdown and blocked a punt setting up another score in a 24-10 win last year in Iowa City.

The series: Wisconsin leads 49-45-2

The line: Wisconsin -9.5


1) Welcome back

Wisconsin will see a familiar face at quarterback for Iowa, as former Badgers signal caller Deacon Hill leads the Hawkeyes offense. Hill, a part of Wisconsin’s 2021 recruiting class that entered the transfer portal after Paul Chryst was fired last October, played in only one game for the Badgers as the team’s fourth-string quarterback. But with Iowa starter Cade McNamara going down with a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago, Hill has been thrust into a role that he’s probably not ready for yet.

Arm strength is no issue for the 6-foot-3, 258-pound sophomore, but his accuracy is a significant problem. He completed just 6 of 21 passes in a win over Purdue and for the season he’s completing just 37.5% of his throws. It was the same story for Hill at Wisconsin, where he routinely overthrew wide open receivers and failed to put touch on short passes. The Badgers defense is likely going to focus on taking care of Iowa’s running game and bet Hill can’t beat them with his arm.

2) All or (almost) nothing

Iowa’s offense isn’t full of weapons for Hill, but one that will certainly have Wisconsin’s attention is tight end Erick All. The Michigan transfer has 19 catches on the season and nine of them have come in the last two games when Hill played a majority of the snaps. It included a five-catch, 97-yard day last week against the Boilermakers when he also scored a touchdown. But he’s not just a receiving threat. All will mix it up in the run game, too, especially when acting as a puller. Slowing Iowa’s running game, and thus lessening the success of the play action game that All thrives on, will be huge for the Badgers.

3) Doing just enough

Wisconsin’s offense hasn’t been the high-scoring unit some thought it could be in the first year under coordinator Phil Longo. Sure, they are averaging 31.4 points per game, which is a definite upgrade over the last two seasons. But in their first matchup against a team with a legit defense — last week against Rutgers (ranked 14th in the nation) — the offense scored just 17 points. They turned it over twice, managed 357 yards and just 4.6 yards per play. Now comes an Iowa unit that has allowed more than 16 points just once this season and is coming off a performance where they racked up six sacks, 12 tackles for loss and two interceptions. This isn’t the same elite defense from last year — they rank 29th in yards allowed — but Wisconsin’s offense has a tough task in front of it. Getting Braelon Allen, Jackson Acker and even Tanner Mordecai going on the ground is of the utmost importance.

4) The Air Raid in weather

A week after playing in sunny but cold and windy conditions, the Badgers will add the potential of rain and stronger winds to the challenge this week. It’s supposed to rain much of the day before kick, while temperatures are expected to be in the low 50s with wind gusts forecasted to top 35 miles per hour. Iowa already does a good job of taking away explosive plays in the passing game. Will the wind make it even more difficult for the Badgers to find some big plays through the air?

5) For the West

It’s still the middle of October but Saturday could end up serving as the Big Ten West championship game. If the Badgers win, they will be 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 2019, while every other team in the division would have at least two losses. It would also give Wisconsin some cushion if they were to drop a game or two the rest of the way. If the Hawkeyes get the win, they would be the favorites to close out division play in the conference with a third trip to the title game, especially when the rest of the their schedule features four other West teams and Rutgers.


In the last eight games between Wisconsin and Iowa, the teams have combined to average 12.8 punts per game. That included 18 last year in Iowa City.

The Badgers are 5-3 against Iowa since 2015 when they run for at least 100 yards. In those wins they’ve averaged 216 yards per game, while in the losses they have managed just 64.7 yards. Wisconsin currently leads the Big Ten in rushing at 203.6 yards per game.

Wisconsin is one of just two teams in the Big Ten that have amassed at least 1,000 yards rushing and passing. And among Power 5 teams that have played five games like the Badgers, only four other teams (Tennessee, Oregon, Miami, UCLA) have accomplished that.


Zach Heilprin (4-1, 1-4 ATS) ’s prediction: Wisconsin 17, Iowa 9
Ebo (4-1, 2-3 ATS) ’s prediction: Wisconsin 14, Iowa 7
RJ Brachman’s (4-1, 2-3 ATS) prediction: Wisconsin 19, Iowa 13
Nelson Raisbeck (4-1, 2-3 ATS)’s prediction: Wisconsin 20, Iowa 16