No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers (6-1 SU, 2-5 ATS) vs. No. 15 Iowa Hawkeyes
(5-1 SU, 4-2 ATS), Week 8 NCAA Football, 3:30 p.m. EST, Saturday,
October 23, 2010, Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, Iowa, TV: ABC/ESPN
by Badger of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: UW +5.5/IA -5.5
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One week after knocking off the top-ranked team in the land the 13th-
ranked Wisconsin Badgers will try and avoid the hangover when they
travel to Iowa City to play the 15th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes in another
huge Big Ten Conference game in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday.
The Badgers are coming off of the biggest win in head coach Bret
Bielemas tenure at Wisconsin, an impressive 31-18 victory over the
then No. 1-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes at home in Madison. Now the
real test is whether Bielema can keep the Badgers focused ahead to
Iowa, his alma mater and where he began his coaching career, in order
to avoid the classic letdown game against the Hawkeyes.
Iowa enters Saturdays showdown with the Badgers fresh off a 38-28
victory over the Michigan Wolverines in a game that had nearly 1,000
yards of offense. The Hawkeyes can be happy that they ran out to a 21-
point lead early in the fourth quarter and that they knocked Michigan
QB Denard Robinson out of the game, but theres still room to improve
since they gave up 522 yards of offense and allowed the Wolverines
back into the game with their backup Tate Forcier at the wheel.
All of this sets up a perfect situation for the Hawkeyes to remind
everyone that they are still right in the thick of the Big Ten
Conference title race, and another big victory over a higher ranked
opponent could catapult them right back into the BCS hunt as well.
The oddsmakers havent forgotten about Iowa yet, since they set the
opening point spread for this game with the Hawkeyes as nearly
touchdown favorites at 5.5-points. There has been a little bit of
movement in the line due to the early steam at the window, but not
much since it has either moved down the hook to 5 or up the half-
point to 6 at a few sportsbooks. For the
most part Iowa minus -5.5 is right where its going to sit.
The over/under total opened at 48 and hasnt budged at all since it
was put on the board.
This game sets up as a classic matchup of two nearly identical teams.
Offensively the Badgers like to run John Clay and James White behind
a huge offensive line that pushed around the Buckeyes front seven
last week in Madison. Call it predictable, but the Badgers continue
to pound away with the run until defenses either stop it, or commit
so many defenders to stop it that it opens up the play-action passing
Across the field the Hawkeyes offense powers the ball on the ground
with Adam Robinson behind another big, but younger offensive line
from traditional pro-style sets and formations. The Hawkeyes approach
is almost a mirror image of the Badgers, but since Bielema learned
his craft from Hayden Fry and longtime defensive coordinator Norm
Parker its not much of a surprise really.
Both offenses also have smart quarterbacks in Scott Tolzien and Ricky
Stanzi that are capable of taking advantage of mismatches and
defenses stacked to stop the run. Tolzien is a little more accurate
(70.9 comp. %), but Stanzi stretches the field a little better (10.17
yards per catch) and hasnt made many mistakes in taking care of the
ball (13 TD, just 2 INT).
So with similar offenses lining up this week this game will likely come down to which defense executes the game plan to stop the other.
Once again it will come down to defense.
Wisconsins executed it perfectly against the Buckeyes last week,
using a big early lead to play conservatively and keep everything in
front of them which is why they only gave up 311 yards total with
small averages per play (3.8 ypc on the ground, 5.6 ypc in the air).
Iowa was gouged a little by Michigan as mentioned, but the smash-
mouth style of Wisconsin fits their personnel a lot better and they
should be up to the task come Saturday.
Another reason the Badgers might be able to avoid the letdown game
this week, other than the fact Bielema can use his alma mater as
motivation, is the old revenge factor. Iowa has won two straight
games in the series, and six of the last eight meetings going all the
way back to the 2002 season.
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Iowa drilled the Badgers 38-16 in their last appearance in Kinnick
Stadium, and are 3-1 SU at home in Iowa City during their impressive
winning run since 2002.
The Hawkeyes winning run is not just on the field either, as Iowa has
covered in three straight and is 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings. The
Hawkeyes have also done well at home in Kinnick, going 4-1 ATS over
Plus, the series will be taking a two-year break after this season so
the winner will have an extra few years to rub it in the face of the
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im leaning toward the Hawkeyes here because it is a classic letdown stage for the Badgers Saturday. But thats too easy
for me and smells like a trap. So Im going to play it safe with a
play on the under in a game controlled by defenses and the running
clock. Take the under of 48.