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Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Wisconsin Badgers Preview and Prediction


Well, can Iowa do it again?

Wisconsin Badgers RB Jonathan Taylor

After scoring one of the most lopsided upsets the Big Ten has seen in quite some time, the Hawkeyes look to do it once more. This time, however, they will leave the comfort of Kinnick Stadium and try to pull another Big Ten upset in Camp Randall Stadium, home to the Wisconsin Badgers.

Wisconsin is the Big Ten's last great playoff hope this season and the lone undefeated team left standing in conference play. Iowa managed to score a win in Madison in 2015 en route to its own 12-0 regular season and a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game. Now the Hawkeyes look to play the role of spoiler for the Badgers and knock them back in the playoff hunt, and potentially keep their own slim chances of playing for a Big Ten championship alive for another week.

Iowa at Wisconsin

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov., 11 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: Wisconsin -12.5

Things to Watch

1. Running back showdown

History shows that any time you talk about Iowa and Wisconsin, you have to talk about the running backs. And that is certainly true this week with Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor (above, right) and Iowa's Akrum Wadley. Wadley, a senior, may not have scored against Ohio State last week (how is that even possible?), but he contributed 118 rushing yards and 40 receiving yards in the 55-point effort. Badgers freshman Taylor is coming off another Big Ten Freshman of the Week performance as he continues to lead the Big Ten with 1,368 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.

2. Nate Stanley must avoid mistakes vs. Badgers' pass defense

Generally speaking, Iowa's quarterback has done a really good job of avoiding costly mistakes through the air this season. Stanley enters this week with 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions, among the best in the league in both categories. Stanley's completion percentage may be lagging behind others in the Big Ten, but he rarely makes a mistake. Keeping that trend going will be a challenge this week. Wisconsin has a Big Ten-leading 14 interceptions this year, with just eight passing touchdowns allowed.

Not to be outdone, Iowa has the Big Ten's second-most interceptions on defense, with 13. Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook has been picked off nine times this season, but he also has one of the top four completion percentages in the conference.

3. Wisconsin tends to pull away in the second half

Wisconsin has won every game on its schedule by double digits this season, and it is somewhat easy to see why. There have been a number of games where Wisconsin hasn't been able to manage to take firm control in the first half, but the Badgers wear down their opponents in the second half. Wisconsin's 19.3 points per game in the second half this year are eighth most in the nation, and the Badgers have controlled the football for 62.1 percent of the time in the second half. The only team holding the football for a larger percentage in the third and fourth quarters this season has been Army.

Final Analysis

Iowa exploded last week in a big win over Ohio State, but don't expect much of that excitement to carry over to this week's contest in Madison. This one should be much more of a defensive battle featuring strong running games trying to maintain control of the ball. This typically plays to the advantage of both Wisconsin and Iowa, but only one team can come out on top in this one. It's a close call, but the home team gets the nod, much to the delight of Wisconsin fans.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Wisconsin

Prediction: Wisconsin 23, Iowa 16

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.