MADISON, Wisc. – No. 16 Wisconsin looks to stay in contention for the Big Ten West Division title when it hosts 18th-ranked Iowa on Saturday in the battle for the Heartland Trophy. The Badgers cruised to six consecutive victories by an average margin of 38 points before suffering back-to-back road losses, including a shocking 24-23 setback to Illinois, which was a 30-point underdog, and they hope to bounce back from a 38-7 drubbing to No. 4 Ohio State by improving to 7-0 at home in 2019.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Wisconsin -9.5.
Wisconsin trails first-place Minnesota by two games and needs its fourth straight win against the Hawkeyes to stay in the hunt for their third division title in the last four years. Iowa bounced back from a pair of defeats with a pair of wins, including a 20-0 shutout of Northwestern, to keep their hopes alive for a division title. The Hawkeyes' lone two setbacks came to fifth-ranked Penn State and No. 14 Michigan by a combined 12 points, and they hope to avoid falling to 0-3 to Top 25 opponents in what amounts to a de facto elimination game by registering their first win against the Badgers since Oct. 3, 2015. "The conference race will get decided in November and it's wide open as far as I can tell," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz told reporters. "We can't do anything but take care of the first one and that's where our focus will be."
ABOUT IOWA (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten)
Nate Stanley completed 12-of-26 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown in the homecoming win against Northwestern to overtake Drew Tate (61) for second place on the program’s all-time TD passes list with 62. Tyrone Tracy Jr. caught a pair of passes for 88 yards and a touchdown, while Ihmir Smith-Marsette finished with three receptions for 20 yards to become the 42nd player in Iowa history to reach 1,000 career receiving yards with 1,011. Linebacker Kristian Welch has missed the last two games with a leg injury and is questionable for Saturday’s clash while All-Big Ten offensive lineman Alaric Jackson could miss due to a knee problem.
ABOUT WISCONSIN (6-2, 3-2)
Jack Coan was 10-of-17 through the air for 108 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Ohio State as the Badgers were limited to a season-low 191 yards of total offense. Heisman hopeful Jonathan Taylor was bottled up by the Buckeyes as he was held to 52 yards on 20 carries to finish below 100 yards for the second time in the last three games. “The last couple of games haven’t gone like we wanted them to,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst told reporters. “There’s been some games where we haven’t been able to consistently run the football and there are things schematically we can do to help that.”
1. Wisconsin has won six of the last seven meetings with Iowa.
2. The Hawkeyes are ranked third nationally in scoring defense (10.1 points).
3. Taylor is the only running back in the country who has played eight or fewer games but has more than 13 touchdowns. He ranks second in the nation among all players with 19 total TDs.
PREDICTION: Wisconsin 27, Iowa 21