Wisconsin v. Iowa
Wisconsin has a very friendly November schedule. The key to their season is this Saturday is a tough test v. Iowa. Wisconsin closes with the bottom of the Big Ten and doesn’t have to face Penn State who has woodsheded them their last 3 meetings.
What to look for this Saturday. Unfortunately the game is at 11:00 which means the students won’t be there until 12:15. I find this an embarrassing tradition. Everyone from Bielema to Ryan to Barry Alvarez has addressed this issue, it needs to change. I recall a story about this blog’s editor playing a round of golf at 6:00 am after 15 drinks. He shot a 79. UW’s students need to shoot a 76 and get their by 10:30. Make this a a game resembling the old days, when yours truly had season tickets and the games were madness. Yeah we get that the students drink too much, but suck it up and get out of bed.
On Iowa. I am of the belief that Iowa has the Big Ten’s finest two coaches. Norm Parker runs a defense that is never out of place. They have significantly less ability on the field than OSU but it is reasonable to say their defense is better. They are not as fast, they are just smarter. Norm Parker is the reason. He is a sensational Defensive Coordinator. Iowa’s strength is their front seven, if you watched the PSU game, you saw Iowa pummel the Nittany Lion offensive line. This front seven is the equal of OSU. Hopefully playing at home will solve some of UW’s woes. If Josh Ogelsby does another turn-style impression UW will have no chance and Scott Tolzein will watching from the hospital on Regent St. As good as the Iowa defense is…they had a streak end Saturday in which they hadn’t allowed a rushing TD in 33 quarters. Yeah, that’s good.
They can be thrown on as their secondary is not the equal of their front seven. Tolzein, Toon, and Graham can have some success if they are given a chance. Kirk Ferentz the other half of this equation. I have admired him from afar and have felt that since Barry Alvarez left he has had a firm grip on the Big Ten’s best coach. He doesn’t have 1/2 the personnel and recruiting advantages that sweater vest has and is right there in results. I’m surprised the NFL hasn’t wised up on him yet. Iowa never beats themselves, they have spectacular special teams, and they play great defense. Sounds like a familiar equation for us Badgers.
How I see it? I see UW having difficulty moving the ball. I see UW’s defense which has really emerged in 09′ causing troubles for Iowa. In the end I think the game is decided by three simple factors as the matchups are really pushes across the board.
1. UW coverage units v. Iowa return units. Iowa’s returner has been lost to an ACL injury, so they’ll be breaking in a new man. Wisconsin’s coverage units have been abysmal. (that may be a compliment). If UW can dictate some field position and Nortmann has a solid day, they are in good shape. I wouldn’t expect UW’s special teams to do anything. Not sure if you noticed but it has been announced that David Gilreath will lose reps to little known Maurice Moore on returns. We just went from bad to worse in the return game. Can our man Chris Borland return kicks!
2. Crowd: can they get there by lunchtime? Doubt it. Iowa will probably get 4 possessions facing a 1/2 empty student section. Big difference. Shame on the no-shows. Send your tickets to ROTQ, we’ll see they end up in the hands of someone who gets there on time.
3. UW’s OL. John Moffitt and Josh Ogelsby have been atrocious. If they play like they did last week Wisconsin will lose this game by 3 touchdowns. If they play as they can, UW will hang in there and provided they win the turnover battle they’ll win the game.
1. Will Montee Ball start now that Fumble Brown has a concussion? Will UW go empty on the first play just to tell John Clay he isn’t starting. Ball looks like he has a shot to be a player.
2. Garrett Graham. Big bounce back week. I expect him to play very well.
3. Borland. First week he didn’t make a huge play. Anyone betting against him starting a new streak?
4. Isaac Anderson…I dropped my thought, I can’t remember what I was typing.
5. O’Brien Schofield is quietly putting together an All-American season. He has been UW’s best defensive end such Tarek Saleh. Saleh was more consistent than Jonathon Welsh and Erasmus James.
Prediction: last week I predicted in this space that UW would lose. I am going to reverse field. UW beats an Iowa team that is frankly better than OSU. UW won’t turn it over, Iowa will and in-spite of the lame student section, UW wins 20-17.