Week 9 vs Iowa
The Badgers will be looking for their fourth-straight win in this heated rivalry when the Hawkeyes come to Camp Randall on November 9.
The Hawkeyes definitely return some talent on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Nate Stanley is poised for a breakout season, and he will have two potential first-round NFL draft picks protecting him at the two tackle positions.
However, Iowa lost some huge components to their offense from a year ago in tight ends Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson and receiver Nick Easley, and the returning talent in both the pass and run games, while experienced, can just be described as average in terms of proven talent at this point. This isn’t an offense I envision lighting up a solid Badgers defense on the road.
Defensively, the Hawkeyes have another nice set of bookends on the line in defensive ends A.J. Epenesa and Chauncey Golson, and that could go a long way in keeping Wisconsin’s ground game in check. Kirk Ferentz should have another staunch defense in 2019.
Instead, as we often see when these two programs collide, I’m anticipating a low-scoring affair between two very evenly matched squads. In the end, Wisconsin’s home-field advantage gives the Badgers the edge to squeak out a win.
Wisconsin 24 – Iowa 20
After a tough loss and a bye week to think about it, the Badgers will host the Iowa Hawkeyes. It doesn’t matter how much better one team is than the other any given year. This game is always competitive and almost always close. Last year, Bucky went into Iowa City in a night game and came out with an impressive win. I’m sure Iowa will be ready to return the favor at Camp Randall.
The Hawkeyes lose their two stud tight ends, Noah Fant (3 rec 29 yards, 2 touchdowns) and T.J. Hockenson (3 rec. 145 yards), who both gave the Badgers fits last season. They do return a lot of key starters, including quarterback Nate Stanley. They also return their top three leading rushers in Mekhi Sargent, Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin. On defense, they have a top NFL prospect A.J. Epenesa, who had 10.5 sacks last season and didn’t even start. Expect a big season out of him.
I think the biggest matchup will be Wisconsin’s offense against this Iowa defense, who ranked 7th in total defense, allowing just 294 yards per game. Again, I think home-field advantage will play a huge role in this game and I think Paul Chryst will get this offense to produce just enough to pull out the win.
Wisconsin 17 – Iowa 13