Heartland Trophy Game Offers Badgers Chance to Control Big Ten West Destiny

Heartland Trophy Game Offers Badgers Chance to Control Big Ten West Destiny

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Heartland Trophy Game Offers Badgers Chance to Control Big Ten West Destiny

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When: Sat. Oct 22, 2016; 11am CT
Where: Iowa City, Iowa; Kinnick Stadium
TV: ESPN
All-Time Series: Wisconsin leads 44-43-2
Last Meeting: Iowa Won 10-6 (2015)
Line: Wisconsin (-3.5)

It’s back…trophy game time that is!!

Wisconsin takes a short jaunt over to Iowa City, Iowa and hopes to do what Iowa did last season — return home with the Heartland Trophy in hand and back in the trophy case.

This series is tied at 5-5 since the introduction of the Heartland Trophy, so it is more than just annual bragging rights that are on the line in this one. But, let’s take a look at a series that the Badgers actually lead in the all-time mark.

 

Burning Question: Can Wisconsin Regain Control of Big Ten West Division?

Winning has a way to snowball on a team. Confidence grows, belief grows and unusual circumstances usually go their way too. Losing also happens to have a mean streak to it, and the Badgers are in the midsts of a two-game losing streak.

Yes, those loses were to Michigan and Ohio State and were close at that. Still, the reality is they are L’s on the Badgers win and loss column and with all of the Big Ten West division schedule in front of it there is still everything to play for for Wisconsin.

It all starts with a trip to the reigning division champs and a team that is a game up on Wisconsin in the loss column. Given the Badgers only have Big Ten West division games ahead of itself, a win to start that five-game slate would certainly put things in their own hands.

Of course, there would also have to be some help in the form of a second Nebraska loss in Big Ten play, but you can’t worry about that if you don’t win this game on Saturday.

A loss to Iowa and the West Division title is all but gone. So, even though the last two games were emotional, this one has to be equal to that and the Badgers have to be up the challenge again.

Wisconsin’s Biggest Advantage: Competition

No team in the Big Ten is as battle-tested as the Badgers are, that’s for sure. After running through two straight games against top competition and losing by a total of 14 points the Badgers are well aware of the level of play it takes to

The question is, can Wisconsin find a way to tap in to that level of play from the Ohio State game and bring it to Kinnick Stadium for an early start? If the Badgers remember what it was like to dominate the line of scrimmage in the run game on offense and bottle up running backs on defense this could be a big victory for the Cardinal and White.

On the other hand, Iowa hasn’t had a tough game on its schedule outside of its annually rough battle with the Iowa State Cyclones — and Matt Campbell’s team isn’t exactly setting the world on fire.

If this game gets tight, expect Wisconsin’s recent big game atmospheres to make the difference.

Iowa’s Biggest Advantage: Explosive Plays.

They have been king for the Hawkeyes this season.

That starts with the running game, where Iowa has a pair of running backs already over the 500-yard mark and closing in on 600 yards each. No player has been more explosive for the Hawkeyes than Akrum Wadley, who comes in to this game averaging over 7 yards per carry and has taken to making big play after big play in critical situations.

Wisconsin’s defense has been stout, but it also has given up the big play as its aggressive natures can be used against it at times. Iowa’s best hope to win this game is to make Wisconsin play for its aggressive defense.

We all know that is the case, but can they actually get going on the ground enough and keep the score close enough to make the running game an actual weapon to use?

Predictions:

Andy: Wisconsin 35-14

Yes, these games are usually close and unpredictable and that is why I’m going with a Wisconsin blow out. After all, just about everyone else I’ve talked with and read believes this will be a close game. There are also signs to point us to a Wisconsin blow out, including a dynamic quarterback that can challenge Iowa’s secondary and a run game that had purpose last week. If those two show up alongside a dominant defense against an o.k. offense, the Badgers have every chance to run away with this game.

Nate: Wisconsin 14-10

Though both squads have changed complexion since then, I think this game will look a lot like last year’s contest. However, I think the Badgers prevail this time around. Like seemingly every game at Kinnick Stadium, nothing is going to come easy for Wisconsin, but they will get the job done.

Rayan: Wisconsin 26-10

Despite it being a rivalry game on the road, I’m not worried about this game one bit. Wisconsin is just the much better team. Their terrific front-7 will stop Iowa’s rushing attack, even without Olive Sagapolu. Meanwhile, Corey Clement will build off his fantastic performance last week against a much weaker defense.

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