Well, we’re finally getting what everyone has been pining for: A quality opponent for Wisconsin.
The Badgers play Iowa this Saturday and these games are usually tough, close affairs. A win over Iowa would give the Badgers some credibility in the college football playoff rankings and among (most) naysayers.
Even though this game is at Camp Randall, it won’t be easy. While these teams haven’t played in Madison often in recent years, the Hawkeyes have had success there. Plus, the Badgers will be without several key players, such as linebacker Chris Orr and wide receiver Quintez Cephus. Safety D’Cota Dixon is listed as questionable and even he does play, it might not be at 100 percent.
And yet according to Las Vegas, Wisconsin is a 12-point favorite.
I know Vegas tries to get money on both sides of the line, but are there really a lot of people thinking Wisconsin will win this one by double digits?
Heck, there are those picking Iowa straight up. And those taking Wisconsin … well, most people see a close game.
With all that said, here are this week’s picks from around the web and Twitter:
The Associated Press’ Ralph D. Russo: Wisconsin 28, Iowa 20.
Tom Dienhart of BTN.com: Wisconsin 20, Iowa 17.
Pete Fiutak of Collegefootballnews.com: Wisconsin 26, Iowa 14. “The Badgers will overcome a big passing day from Stanley with picks. Iowa will hit a few home runs, and it’ll keep the pressure on, but when absolutely needed, Wisconsin’s defense will hold firm, coming up with a few key picks. The UW offense will be the UW offense. Pound with Jonathan Taylor, convert seemingly every third down chance – the Badgers lead the nation in third down conversion percentage – and unlike Ohio State, limit the turnovers. Iowa will come into the game jacked up and ready to make another national splash, but it’ll be the Badgers who’ll have everyone buzzing with a win that will finally make everyone believe that, yes, they might just be good enough.”
Athon Sports’ Mitch Light: Wisconsin 27, Iowa 20.
Josh Slagter of MLive.com: Iowa 23, Wisconsin 20.
Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register: Wisconsin 21, Iowa 13. “Iowa’s best chance to win is move the ball through the air, because Wisconsin stops the run. It allows just 87.8 yards a game, fourth in the country. The Hawkeyes would be well-served to get an early lead, and force the Badgers and quarterback Alex Hornibrook to play catch-up through the air. Iowa’s rush defense remains pretty pedestrian — allowing 4.2 yards per rush, far off the goal of 3.3 set by defensive coordinator Phil Parker. If we’re comparing it to my earlier golf example, it feels like Iowa needs to shoot 77 or 78 to win. That would be a really good round with very few mistakes. But it feels like an 81, shall we say, is more par for the course.”
Ryan Dunleavy of NJ Advance Media: Wisconsin 31, Iowa 24.
Marc Morehouse of Cedar Rapids Gazette: Wisconsin 20, Iowa 17.
Jeff Seidel of the Detroit Free Press: Wisconsin 23, Iowa 17.
Kevin McGuire of Athlon Sports: Wisconsin 23, Iowa 16. “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.”
Bill Bender of The Sporting News: Wisconsin 20, Iowa 17.
The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel: Wisconsin 21, Iowa 14.
Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News: Wisconsin 23, Iowa 17. “The Badgers are 9-0 primarily because they haven’t had to face the Spartans as a heavy favorite. Actually, they haven’t faced a single ranked team until now, which explains why they’re only eighth in the playoff rankings. To pump up the Big Ten’s woefully weak West, commissioner Jim Delany reportedly will ask Michigan State to compete in both divisions.”
Zac Al-Khateeb of The Sporting News: Wisconsin 30, Iowa 21.
Rob Howe of Hawkeye Nation: Iowa 17, Wisconsin 16.
David Kenyon of Bleacher Report: Wisconsin 24, Iowa 20. “The Badgers are a terrific team, and their run-stopping prowess will be the difference in the game (No. 4 in the country). But a two-possession margin of victory seems awfully generous for a slow-starting offense that will be without its top receiver, Quintez Cephus (leg).”
Jesse Temple of Land of 10: Wisconsin 21, Iowa 17.
Daniel Gallen of pennlive.com picks Wisconsin.
Anthony Chiusano of NCAA.com: Iowa 28, Wisconsin 24.
Bill Connelly of SB Nation: His S&P+ projection has it Wisconsin 31, Iowa 18.
Tom Fornelli of CBSSports.com: Wisconsin 24, Iowa 17.
CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm think Wisconsin will win but not cover a 12.5-point spread.
The Sagarin Ratings predict Wisconsin 22.64, Iowa 17.64.
PickCenter: TeamRankings has a projected score of 29.2-16.2 while NumberFire’s average is 30.65-20.9, both with Wisconsin winning. The latter also gives the Badgers a 56 percent likelihood over covering a 12-point spread.
All seven analysts at SI.com think Wisconsin will emerge victorious. Molly Geary writes: “The Hawkeyes are certainly a tempting pick coming off their dominant win over Ohio State, but they’ve been a different team on the road, where they’ve gone 0–2 in Big Ten play with 20 total points. The Badgers won’t underestimate Iowa regardless; they have the defense to remain undefeated.”
All three Athlon Sports analysts pick Wisconsin to win.
All six analysts at USAToday.com are going with Wisconsin.
All three ESPN.com Big Ten contributors pick Wisconsin. The scores: Mitch Sherman 21-17, Dan Murphy 24-13, Tom Van Haaren 21-17.
All nine analysts for the Dallas Morning News have the Badgers winning, but just one thinks Wisconsin will cover a 13.5-point spread.
Four of the five analysts at the Los Angeles Times pick Wisconsin. The scores: Ben Bolch, Wisconsin 30-21; Zach Helfand, Wisconsin 24-23; Mike Hiserman, Wisconsin 28-27; Angel Rodriguez, Iowa 21-13; David Wharton, Wisconsin 24-17.