Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes: Battle for Heartland Trophy Preview


On Saturday the Iowa Hawkeyes play host to the Wisconsin Badgers in a battle for the Heartland Trophy. In fact it’s the 87th time the two teams have faced off against each other in a rivalry that dates back to 1894. What shouldn’t be a surprise to many is how closely contested the series is. The all-time series record is deadlocked at 42-42-2.

What this game comes down to simply is the rushing attack of Wisconsin going up against the very tenacious rushing defense of Iowa. The amazing thing about the Hawkeyes defense is that they have allowed only two rushing touchdowns all season, by far the best mark in the nation. Badgers running back duo of Melvin Gordon and James White have rushed for 11 and 7, respectively.

Something is going to have to give here. The Badgers have the best rushing game in the Big Ten and one of the best in the nation. The Hawkeyes have the third best defense in conference, allowing only 128.6 yards per game and giving up 18.1 points per game.

The dynamic duo of Gordon and White have been nothing short of amazing this season. White has rushed for 672 yards and 7 touchdowns. Not to be outdone Gordon has racked up 1,012 yards and 11 touchdowns, both of which rank right near the top in the nation.

Simply put this game comes down to either the rushing attack of the Badgers being able to break through the Iowa defense or if the Hawkeyes are able to contain Gordon and White.

Wild Cards: Of course each game has those players that are capable to take over a game, especially in a rivalry game like this one. For the Badgers I look for wide receiver Jared Abbrederis to come up with a big play in this game. Big time players show up in big time games and make big time plays, and I believe that will be true for Abbrederis. On the Hawkeyes side of the football, believe it or not I think is sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock. Coming off an impressive win over Northwestern a week ago, I think he could make some big plays Saturday. Just watch out for Chris Borland though.

Prediction: This will be one of those old-school Big Ten games, you know the type where after it’s done players look like they just went the distance in a 15-round boxing match.

Wisconsin 24 Iowa 20

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