Despite all the struggles early in the season, the Wisconsin Badgers entered their game against Iowa on Saturday with a chance to secure a tie with Illinois atop the Big Ten West division standings. Illinois lost earlier in the day to Purdue, opening a path for the winner of Wisconsin-Iowa to win the West. But Iowa came out on top with a 24-10 victory over the Badgers.
It was a battle of two great defenses and was exactly as expected between Iowa and Wisconsin in the style of play. However, Iowa's defense and special teams made more plays, including a punt block and a pick-six to make the difference in the ballgame.
Graham Mertz finished with 16 completions on 35 attempts for 176 yards, 1 TD, and 2 interceptions. Spencer Petras for Iowa was 14-of-23 for just 94 yards. Braelon Allen had 17 carries for just 40 yards
Badgers linebacker Nick Herbig had three sacks and the Badgers defense had six sacks on the day. Iowa's defense sacked Graham Mertz four times.
Mertz had an excellent throw to a wide open Keontez Lewis for a 51 yard touchdown just before halftime for Wisconsin's only touchdown of the night to bring it back within four points and make it a 14-10 game at half. But Mertz threw an interception on the opening drive of the second half to swing momentum back to Iowa. The only times Iowa's offense was able to score was when Wisconsin gave them an incredibly short field off turnovers.
Iowa is now in a four-way tie atop the Big Ten West with Illinois, Minnesota, and Purdue all at 4-3 in conference play. Wisconsin is now fifth in the West division at 3-4 and they drop to 5-5 on the season.
Next up for the Badgers is a trip to Nebraska to play for the Freedom Trophy. They need one more win to become bowl eligible this season and have two games left to do it. After Nebraska, Wisconsin will face Minnesota at home for Paul Bunyan's Axe to finish the regular season.