Saturday, October 18, 2008

What are we going to eat: Hawkeyes plan on Badger meat

The Battle of the Heartland Trophy today at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

Iowa Hawkeyes (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten)
Wisconsin Badgers (3-3, 0-3 Big Ten)

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz vs. former Iowa player/assisitant and now Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, with Bielema going for third straight over his alma mater.

Last year, Iowa competed well at Wisconsin, but the more consistent offense and strong Badger team won 17-13 in the four quarters of play. Wisconsin's QB Tyler Donovan, who lead the Badgers to 2-0 the past two years vs. Iowa has graduated.

Iowa's offesne in '07 was the weakest in the Big Ten. The return of RB Shonn Greene and the elevation of QB Ricky Stanzi to starter has improved Iowa vastly over the '07 edition. Wisconsin's offense has been inconsistent in '08.

Finding a QB has been important for both programs in '08. It appears Iowa has found one in Ricky Stanzi. Wisconsin has been inconsistent with Allan Evridge under center, so will it be Everidge or will Dustin Sherer make his first start. Tyler Donovan's first start was at Iowa, two years ago, leading the Badgers to a 24-21 win over Iowa to close out Iowa's Big Ten season at Kinnick.

Run defense has been good for Iowa this season. Special teams overall have improved.
The Badgers can't be taken lightly, especially with the Heartland Trophy on the line. But, with questions at QB, a young coach (third season, but a season where more of his talent must shine), and some inexperience at key positions, like at kicker and punter, on the road... conventional wisdom favors the home team.
Field position, run defense, miscues and turnovers will be huge in this game. In many ways, other than the game being in Iowa City, the game may be more of a toss up. Does a disappointing off the field distraction hurt Iowa? Off the field distractions hurt Iowa vs. Western Michigan in '07, so does Iowa keep it's focus?

Iowa Hawkeyes 20
Wisconsin Badgers 13


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