Defense carries Wisconsin Badgers to 27-7 win over No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes

Three turnovers were made by Wisconsin, and Iowa was held to 7 points. The Badgers remained in control of the Big Ten West's destiny. (2:17).
In win against No. 9 Iowa (2:17)

MADISON (Wis.) -- Graham Mertz scored on two touchdown passes and quarterback sneaks to help Wisconsin defeat No. 9 Iowa won 27-7 Saturday to win its fourth consecutive victory.

The Wisconsin (5-3, Big Ten 3-2) force three turnovers, produce six sacks, and limit Iowa to just 24 yards of rushing on 30 carries. The Badgers remained in control of the Big Ten West Division race, and they reclaimed the Heartland Trophy that is awarded to the winner of this annual matchup.

After being ranked second in the country just a few weeks ago, Iowa (6-2 and 3-2) has been outscored 51-14 by its opponents in its two previous games. This was the Hawkeyes first game since their 24-7 loss at home to Purdue Oct. 16.

The Hawkeyes trailed 17-0 at the quarter's end. Iowa's net yardage didn't reach positive territory until the middle of the second quarter. Iowa did not pick up a first down until the end of the second quarter, at 1:15

Braelon Allen, a Wisconsin freshman, ran for 104 yards on 20 attempts. This is after he had only 12 carries in the first four Wisconsin games.

Halftime led to a 20-0 lead for the Badgers. In the second quarter, Iowa lost three of its 20-yard lines and fell behind by the Badgers. This resulted in 10 points for the Badgers. Iowa was ranked third, while Wisconsin tied for 124th in turnover margin among all Football Bowl Subdivision players before Saturday's match.

Iowa came back into the game in the third quarter when Spencer Petras scored 1 yard from the goal on a quarterback sneak. Iowa moved into Wisconsin territory on its next possession but Scott Nelson, Jack Sanborn and fullback Monte Pottebaum were unable to stop him on fourth-and-1 at the 40.

Wisconsin's next possession ended with Mertz's second touchdown run of 1-yards, giving the Badgers a 27-7 advantage with 12:54 remaining.

Mertz was 11-of-22 for the 104 yard. To put Wisconsin in control, Mertz threw a touchdown pass of 4 yards to Jake Ferguson, tight end.

Wisconsin led 10-0 already before Iowa created a bigger hole with its rush of turnovers.

Petras was sacked by Nick Herbig, who also forced Keeanu Benton to make a fumble at the Iowa 8. Iowa's defense responded by a goal-line stand. Jack Campbell and Seth Benson stuffed fullback John Chenal on the fourth-and-goal.

Iowa got the ball back when Ivory Kelly Martin mishandled a handoff. Noah Burks recovered that fumble at the 1. One play later, Mertz scored.

Iowa lost the game again in the second quarter when Max Cooper, the punt returner, had the ball bounce off of his chest. Wisconsin's Travian Blitzer recovered at the 18, setting up Collin Larsh’s 32-yard field goal.

Scary injury

Clay Cundiff, a Wisconsin tight end, was taken off the field by an ambulance after sustaining injuries in the final seconds of the third quarter. Before the ambulance arrived, his teammates rallied around him to support him.

Cundiff gave a thumbs up to the cheering crowd before he entered the ambulance.


Iowa: The Hawkeyes don't have enough offense firepower to overcome the errors they made in the second half. Iowa would have lost even more if they hadn't been able to play such strong red zone defense.

Wisconsin: The Badgers are forcing turnovers, a defense that has been outstanding all year. Wisconsin now has eight takeaways after obtaining just four in its six first games. ... The Badgers were without their usual starting left guard Josh Seltzner. Michael Furtney took his place.

Poll implications

Iowa will undoubtedly fall out of the top 10, and could plummet all the way to the 20s after a second consecutive loss.