I love Madison. They are the Midwest version of Austin, Texas and that’s why they can still make really good football teams. Austin is fun 12 months out of the year. Madison is upscale six months out of the year and brutal in every sense of the word in winter, so footballers have to stick to the powerlifting room.
Anyway, football! Well, the Badger wasn’t a thorn in Iowa’s side so much as a sword in Monty Python & the Holy Grail’s “It’s Just a Wound of Flesh” Knight stalks. Iowa has only won twice in 10 attempts since 2010. It’s the most lopsided rivalry since…ever? I wouldn’t be angry if the Big Ten didn’t protect this game by adding USC & UCLA.
From: Wisconsin Badgers (Madison, WI; Big Ten Conference)
Coach: Paul Crest (65-23 in Wisconsin, 84-42 overall)
what or what: Battle of the Bull (Heartland Cup)
When: 12 November 2022
where: Kennick Stadium, Iowa City, Iowa
Why: They’re in the same department and they go wow Back.
16: Since upending the competition in the past decade, the Hawks have converted more than 16 times in 10 games. It’s been particularly bad lately, with three games featuring the Hawkeyes coughing the ball 3 or more times. To be fair, Wisconsin hasn’t fared much better with 15 over the same time period, including 2 games with 4 laps.
11/10: Graham Mertz started in last year’s game where Krist scored a number of plays he was comfortable with while the Badgers had a 17-point lead. Finished 11/22. Quarterback playing in the West… Not that good!
3.5: The old football adage is about managing it and preventing the opponent from managing it and nothing is more clear here. Wisconsin has rushed for over 3.5 yards/carry eight times since 2010…all wins. Iowa only had two wins when the Badgers caught 1.7 (2020) and 2.5 (2015).
17: Since 2005, the Badgers have had 17 backers after 1,000 yards. Yes, that’s 17 on 17. They missed it in 2020 and 2015 but made up for it with double doses in 2010 and 2013. Kinda feels this could be another season where they can get players there unless truly Tend to the next guy.
Braelon Allen (#0, RB, So, 6’2″, 235 lbs.): Where does Wisconsin find these super huge runners?
The now 18-year-old (initially committed to the 2022 class but reclassified) is a unique back as I’ve seen. He has volume but somehow can make himself invisible behind his men in the style of Fred Russell. He’s patient but doesn’t really lose momentum when making cuts behind the line of scrimmage. And it’s just a burden to reduce by its impressive size and variability.
He went for 1,268 yards at 6.8 per and 12 touchdowns. If there’s a flaw in his game, it’s that he’s not particularly useful in a passing game (8 passes, 39 yards) but honestly, let’s blame Graham Mertz for that.
Nick Herbig (#19, OLB, Jr., 6’2 inches, 228 lbs): The only returning player from the 2021 Wisconsin group, Herbig Big Ten underclassmen led with 9 sacks while adding 64 tackles and 14.5 for a loss. It’s the latest in a long line of great outdoor players from Wisconsin. Usually they were snatched from some pastures in The Dairy State but he was a four-star recruit from Hawai’i.
Jay Shaw (No. 1, CB, sixth year, 5’11 inches, 187 lbs): The Badgers lost four guys last season, so they went to the gate to fill in the blanks. Shaw hails from future Big Ten team, UCLA, with 16 starts and 43 games played in his previous four seasons. Last season, the All-Pac who ran for 12 seconds after crashing two interceptions and forced confusion had. He finished the match with 27 tackles and four assists.
best case: It starts with Iowa, who didn’t shoot in the foot. Iowa’s strikes missed and faltered deep in their territory several times against the Badgers, yielding easy results. Iowa leads early and resists Merts’ strong opening game performance. With the lead, the Badger becomes cute with a little sassy streak of attack that leads to several choices, including one for a score. Iowa does nothing else in the event of an attack but continues to throttle Wisconsin and keep it outside the end zone for a low-grade blast (14-6).
Worst case: Iowa fans miss their own teams and walk away with an early trip inside the red (Gapped FG) and the ensuing pot return after three and out. Wisconsin rolls behind their massive streak as Allen and Chaz Mellusi score 100 yards in rush games. Graham Mertz passes 6 times, all completion. Stocco is fully realized.
What will be the stakes for this game and can Iowa face it? Last season when Iowa State went to Madison, West more or less walked out of that game, and the victors and Iowa laid eggs two weeks after David Billing. Now, we know how the rest of the season went, as Iowa entered the Big Ten Title Game after winning its last four games, and Wisconsin dropped its last game against Minnesota.
If division is on the line, let’s hope the Hawkeyes do everything they can to make sure they leave the game and their fate in their own hands.
If the stakes are simply Albert Bull before two more games, it would still be a good idea to finish the season with the hardware.