An Iowa defense that has struggled at times to stop the run will need to be at its best on Saturday when the Hawkeyes host a Wisconsin team that is averaging 39 points and 356 yards of rushing in Big Ten play.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says it’s going to take their best football and he says the Pitt game is a good example as they didn’t do that in the first half and Pitt picked up yardage.
The focus will be on Badger running back Melvin Gordon who set an FBS single record of 408 yards in Wisconsin’s blow out win over Nebraska. In just the last two games Gordon has rushed for 613 yards. Ferentz says the Hawkeye secondary will need to be sure tacklers to prevent big plays. “If you gain 400 yards that tells you there have been some missed tackles, but I’d say missed tackles or broken tackles, you are not going to bring him down by a shoestring,” Ferentz says.
Ferentz says Gordon is special because of his skills, buy he says he is also an enthusiastic, energetic player who has been able to stay healthy.
Ferentz says the Iowa-Wisconsin series is based more on respect than some of the other border rivalries as he worked with former coach and now athletic director Barry Alvarez and has know the rest of the staff.
While Wisconsin’s running game gets most of the attention the Badgers also have the Big Ten’s top ranked defense after making the transition to the 3-4 scheme last year. He says it’s impressive the way they are playing right now on defense.
Wisconsin can lock up the Big Ten West Division title with a win and a Nebraska victory over Minnesota. Iowa needs to win out to have a chance at the division title.