Wisconsin Football: Q&A with Iowa Hawkeyes expert

MADISON, WI - AUGUST 31: Garrett Groshek #37 of the Wisconsin Badgers scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Camp Randall Stadium on August 31, 2018 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MADISON, WI - AUGUST 31: Garrett Groshek #37 of the Wisconsin Badgers scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Camp Randall Stadium on August 31, 2018 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

In anticipation of the big game for Wisconsin Football this week against Iowa, we reached out to an Iowa expert to learn more about the Hawkeyes.

Dear Old Gold is FanSided’s Iowa Hawkeyes fan site. The site expert, Andrew Wade, was kind enough to give Badger of Honor some insight on his beloved Iowa Hawkeyes heading into the weekend.

What would a win this weekend mean for Iowa as a program moving forward?

This would be huge for Iowa and firmly place them in the driver’s seat of the Big Ten West. They have a tough matchup at Penn State in a few weeks and they play at Minnesota in two weeks, but outside of those games, they should be favored to win every single remaining game.

What have you seen from Iowa so far this year that gives you the most confidence the Hawkeyes can come away with a win?

The strength of their team matches up perfectly with the strength of Wisconsin. Iowa’s defensive line is low-key very good. They are third in the nation in rushing defense, and their young linebackers fly to the ball. They are also mixing in former five-star defensive end AJ Epenesa more in the run game, which is an added bonus because he is an athletic freak.

Related Story. Matchups to watch vs. Iowa. light

Who are the top playmakers on offense that Wisconsin’s defense will need to keep in check?

If Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Ivory Kelly-Martin are available (been injured), those are the two home run threats that Wisconsin should be worried about, but they aren’t overly consistent. The three guys who will cause the most issues consistently are going to be Noah Fant, TJ Hockenson, and Nick Easley. Fant is arguably the best receiving tight end in the nation. Hockenson would start on a majority of teams in the nation, and Easley is that Wes Welker type of receiver that consistently moves the chains if they can get him the ball.

Iowa’s defense looks like a really strong and stingy unit. What kind of game do you think it’ll have against a struggling Wisconsin offensive line? Are there any holes that concern you where the Wisconsin offense might be able to get something rolling against the Hawkeyes?

To be honest, linebacker would probably be the weakest spot, but even that has looked like a strength so far. That’s where they are young and inexperienced after the Hawks lost all three starters last year. It’ll be interesting to see if Taylor can get to the second level against the linebackers. As far as outside runs, the Iowa corners are particularly good at open field tackling.

Do you have any other guys you’d like to spotlight that could have impactful performances?

If Iowa can get the rushing game going with either Mekhi Sargent, Toren Young, or Ivory Kelly-Martin, one of those guys will be a huge impact player.

How do you expect Nate Stanley to perform in this game compared to last year’s matchup? How has he fared so far this year?

I sure hope he does better. Last year was dreadful (8-24 for 41 yards). I wrote an article about this. Stanley just needs to be a solid game manager and make the key third-down throws. The first two games of the season, his play was pretty bad. He was pressing and making bad decisions. Last game against an FCS school, he looked a lot better and the offense began rolling. The play calling also got a lot better last game.

Are there any underlying storylines you want to talk about?

Our kicker has struggled a little bit this season. He has missed two field goals and had one blocked. Obviously, you all had a tough game last week too with kicking. I think that could be a big part of the game.

Give us your pitch on Kinnick Voodoo Magic and why Badger fans should be petrified.

I had the opportunity to meet Jake Butt a few weeks ago and told him I was a Hawkeye fan. He point-blank said, “Iowa should play every single game at night.” He said it’s impossible to win there.

The fans there are incredible, and they love big games. Iowa fans never go into a game thinking they are going to lose, and Kirk gets his team ready to play. Since there aren’t many night games either, the group just gets going. I don’t know how to describe it other than it’s truly an incredible experience and should not be taken lightly by opposing teams.

What’s your final score prediction for the game, and how do you think both teams end at that result?

I’m biased obviously, but I think it’s something along the lines of 14-10 or 13-10 Iowa.

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Stay tuned to Badger of Honor and Dear Old Gold for more analysis as the game approaches and breakdowns afterward dissecting the fallout of the result.