Iowa football is not often pretty… by design.
College football has gotten flashier while Hawkeye football has gotten… stickier?
It’s all part of the plan. And Kirk Ferentz loves it when a plan comes together.
Take Iowa’s last game against Northwestern. Given the time and timeouts to build on a 10-0 lead with heavier weather in the forecast, Ferentz opted to stay put and run out the clock.
That’s something he’s done so much that “Kirk’s timeout collection” was a running bit on my Twitter account for years. But then I crossed the joke over to basketball *one time* and… let’s be generous and just say it didn’t translate.
But the halftime kneel-downs have driven more than one fan to jump off the bandwagon over the years, only to have them return when the final score ended up in Iowa’s favor.
Maybe that 20-0 win in Evanston “should have been 40-0,” but that’s just not the way the Hawkeyes roll.
They chipped away at Iowa State for an 18-17 win.
They were 100 percent successful in the red zone against Michigan, so imagine if they could have entered it, say, three more times than the once they did… and settled for field goals. 12-10 win, anybody?
And they were just two field goals away from another 18-17 win against Penn State.
Would it be more electric to erase those leads with a 50-yard passing touchdown? Absolutely.
But this isn’t EA Sports’ NCAA Football. (That’s below.)
The bottom line is the final score that lands on the ESPN bottom line. The goal is to keep it close and, with apologies to “Teen Wolf,” win in the end. Playing a field position game peppered with field goals and punctuated with touchdowns works for Kirk more often than not against all but the best teams — and sometimes even then — so don’t fix what isn’t broken, right?
On to Wisconsin.
Ah, the Heartland Trophy. It means so much to so many since its introduction in 2004.
It’s probably my favorite Iowa rivalry — even if not favorite rivalry trophy — because of how evenly matched it is. Or should I say was?
Before this current 3-game Wisconsin winning streak this series was evenly split at 44-43-2 (5-5 in the trophy series). Ten games ago, it was 40-40-2. And Kirk Ferentz inherited a 36-36-2 record.
So that means he’s 7-11. Wisconsin has 14 conference titles to Iowa’s 13, 30 bowl games to Iowa’s 32, 29 consensus all-Americans to Iowa’s 27, a 16-14 bowl record to Iowa’s 16-15-1, two Heisman winners to Iowa’s one. We don’t want to evaluate where Wisconsin is as a program right now, because they’ve nudged past the Hawkeyes. A touch hard to believe for those of us who witnessed the 10-game Iowa win streak from 1985-1996.
It’s time to start turning that around and evening this thing out again.
Let’s see if the experts think that begins now.
Once again, we are thrilled to have our predictions on Hawkeye Headquarters brought to you by Draft Day Sports Lounge inside Rhythm City Casino, “where you can grab a bite and make live bets!”
The Hawkeyes’ all-time leader in receptions is back for a third season of picks.
Kevonte Martin-Manley: Iowa 17, Wisconsin 3
Steve Batterson: Wisconsin 17, Iowa 13. Nothing will come easily Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, where two quality defenses have the potential to turn this match-up into a punt-filled afternoon. Jonathan Taylor, who has ran well against Iowa but has never reached the end zone in two games against the Hawkeyes, may give the Badgers a slight edge in this one but if either team can collect points from its defense it will have a chance to remain in the Big Ten West Division race.
Steven Lassan: Wisconsin
Mitch Light: Wisconsin
Mark Ross: Wisconsin
Dennis Dodd: Wisconsin
Jerry Palm: Wisconsin
Tom Fornelli: Wisconsin
Chip Patterson: Wisconsin
Barton Simmons: Wisconsin
Barrett Sallee: Wisconsin
Ben Kercheval: Wisconsin
Bruce Feldman: Wisconsin 23, Iowa 20
Stewart Mandel: Wisconsin 21, Iowa 10
Wisconsin 28, Iowa 27
David Kenyon: Wisconsin 20, Iowa 10
Ralph D. Russo: Wisconsin 16, Iowa 9
Bill Bender: Wisconsin 24, Iowa 17
Bill Connelly: Wisconsin 27, Iowa 17
Molly Geary: Wisconsin
Max Meyer: Wisconsin
Michael Shapiro: Wisconsin
Laken Litman: Wisconsin
Ross Dellenger: Wisconsin
Pat Forde: Wisconsin
Lorenzo Arguello: Iowa
Scott Dochterman: Wisconsin 16, Iowa 13
SI’s Hawkeye Maven
John Bohnenkamp: Iowa 17, Wisconsin 13
Brendan Stiles: Wisconsin 17, Iowa 10
John Patchett: Wisconsin 17, Iowa 13
Tyler Tjelmeland: Wisconsin 17, Iowa 16
Chad Leistikow: Wisconsin 20, Iowa 13
Go Iowa Awesome
Mark Hasty: Wisconsin 24, Iowa 13
Rob Howe: Wisconsin 16, Iowa 9
Black Heart Gold Pants
JPinIC: Wisconsin 16, Iowa 6
Jerry Scherwin: Iowa 31, Wisconsin 17
Tnels20: Wisconsin 22, Iowa 15
Matt Cabel: Wisconsin 24, Iowa 16
BoilerHawk: Wisconsin 20, Iowa 9
Benjamin Ross: Wisconsin 17, Iowa 3
Doug Saye: Wisconsin 17, Iowa 13
Matt Reisener: Wisconsin 17, Iowa 6
DC: Iowa 17, Wisconsin 13
Adam Hensley: Wisconsin 24, Iowa 10
Cody Hills: Wisconsin 16, Iowa 14
And finally, the totally irrelevant prediction based on playing EA Sports’ NCAA Football 2004 on a PS2, as is the tradition since 2015.
Ryan Jaster: Wisconsin 14, Hawkeyes 12. Iowa moves the ball early, marching it down to the 20 on the opening drive. But the field goal attempt goes wiiiide right. After the first quarter ends scoreless, the Hawks manage two field goals in the second and hit the locker room with a 6-0 lead. Wisconsin emerges adjusted and firing, but the Hawkeyes are defending and deflecting. Unfortunately, a muffed punt gives the Badgers the ball at the 8 and two plays later, they take a 7-6 lead. The Hawkeyes respond with a drive, but a long pass to a wide-open receiver is a second late and a yard short — intercepted. Iowa catches a break when Wisconsin punts on 4th and 1 at the 47 and the ball rolls into the end zone, but a false start and a sack leads to a punt from the end zone anyway that gives the Badgers great field position, resulting in their second touchdown. Iowa puts it all together at the last minute — well, three minutes — and converts two 4th and longs before connecting on a 30-yard touchdown pass with 1:04 left that sets up a game-tying 2-point attempt. A tight end is open — but it’s dropped! The Hawkeyes recover the onside kick, but it only traveled 9 yards. A second attempt results in illegal touching and the ball at the 30. It seems like the game is over, but three Wisconsin runs and three Iowa timeouts later, the Badgers leave a 42-yard field goal short with 48 seconds left. You already saw the score, but you don’t know how it ends: An interception on the next play. A bit anticlimactic. Three turnovers are the difference in a game the Iowa defense holds Wisconsin to 99 yards. Fun fact: Neither team converted a third down.
Prognosis: A couple of weeks ago I thought a shutout was on the table, with the way Iowa was playing and the way Wisconsin was winning. Now, I believe the Hawkeyes can win. I believe that the defense can win a game seemingly “by themselves.” I’m not sure if this is that game. Not many of the experts above think it is. But it’s possible. Everything will have to be perfect. And stressful for fans. And… sticky. Prediction? Pain.
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Ryan Jaster writes a weekly predictions column during football season for HawkeyeHQ.com and previously wrote and edited for CBS Sports, the Quad-City Times, ChicagoSports.com and the Chicago Tribune. You can follow his Hawkeye musings at @Hawkologist.