It's game day at Camp Randall Stadium
October, 17, 2009
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
MADISON, Wis. -- Greetings from Camp Randall Stadium, site of today's homecoming clash between No. 11 Iowa and Wisconsin.
At 6-0, Iowa is off to its best start since 1985 and carries the nation's second-longest win streak (10 games) into today's contest. The Hawkeyes won last year's game 38-16 in Iowa City to claim the Heartland Trophy.
In a truly amazing statistic, the all-time series is tied at 41-41-2. Wisconsin has a 26-17-1 edge in games played in Madison, though Iowa has won two of its last three games at Camp Randall Stadium.
The weather is perfect, with mostly sunny skies, temperatures in the mid 40s and winds at 8-10 mph.
Injuries: Iowa will be playing its first game without punt and kick returner Paul Chaney Jr., who suffered a season-ending ACL injury last week. Wisconsin running back Zach Brown, who opened the season as the starter, is out with a concussion. Badgers backup right guard Bill Nagy is still fighting a foot injury.
THREE QUICK KEYS FOR IOWA
1. Block O'Brien Schofield -- No one has succeeded this season, and Schofield leads the nation with 16.5 tackles for loss and leads the Big Ten with 6.5 sacks. But Iowa has a good chance to slow down the Badgers' star defensive end with stout offensive tackles Kyle Calloway and Bryan Bulaga.
2. Pick spots to attack -- Wisconsin's defense is extremely opportunistic but will give up big plays from time to time. Iowa's Ricky Stanzi threw the deep ball very well last week and should use tight end Tony Moeaki as much as possible. Stanzi obviously must be careful with his decisions, especially on shorter routes, as interceptions are his bugaboo.
3. Hold the ground against Clay -- Iowa's run defense struggled in the second half last week against Michigan's Brandon Minor and Denard Robinson. Wisconsin's bruising back John Clay often does his best work after halftime, so the Hawkeyes' durability on defense will be tested.
THREE KEYS FOR WISCONSIN
1. Pound away with Clay -- Michigan had success last week with Minor when it went to a conventional I-formation in the third quarter. Wisconsin needs to keep pounding away with Clay and hope to wear down the middle of the Hawkeyes defense. If not, quarterback Scott Tolzien will have to make some tough throws against an Iowa defense filled with playmakers.
2. Make Stanzi win the game -- Stanzi has been very resilient this year, but Iowa is also largely winning games in spite of his mistakes. Wisconsin must take away the run and force Stanzi to win a tough road game. The Badgers have nine interceptions from seven different players, and they can capitalize on mistakes from the opposing quarterback.
3. Don't get killed in special teams -- Special teams are certainly a weakness for Wisconsin and a strength for Iowa, even without Chaney. In a game that likely will be decided by one or two miscues, the Badgers can't afford another breakdown in special teams after allowing a long kick return for a touchdown last week at Ohio State.