The 24th ranked Wisconsin Badgers did just enough right on Saturday to keep their BCS Bowl Game hopes intact.
UW turned two interceptions in Iowa territory into touchdowns and got past a stubborn Hawkeyes team, 28-9, at Kinnick Stadium.
“We just kept doing what we do,” head coach Gary Andersen said afterward. “It was a big win for us.”
The loss of LB Chris Borland, still nursing a hamstring injury, was ameliorated greatly by the stellar play of Marcus Trotter.
Trotter was ubiquitous, leading the team in tackles.
His pressure on backup QB C.J. Beathard forced the second pick to salt this one away.
This wasn’t your typical game for Wisconsin.
A team that piles up 500+ yards per game on a regular basis normally doesn't have that tough of a time.
It was unusual to see the vaunted Badger running game stall on series after series to start the game.
Credit the swarming Iowa ‘D’ and poor field position for Bucky’s struggles.
The Badgers, trailing 6-0, put together their best drive toward the end of the half.
Head coach Gary Andersen’s bunch had a tough time of it on third down in Corn Country.
The Hawkeyes were in the same boat, however.
As the field position improved, so did UW’s fortunes.
The view and a team’s confidence both get better when you cross the 50-yard line.
Joel Stave stepped up into the pocket past the pressure and fired a 44-yard strike to Jacob Pedersen for a 7-6 lead with 1:49 remaining in the half.
After the Hawkeyes stalled, Wisconsin had a chance to put more points on the board.
New kicker Brendan Kelly nailed a 54-yard field goal, but Iowa had called timeout.
His second attempt did not have enough oomph, however, and the teams headed to the locker room.
The exchanges of punts continued to start the second half.
Iowa QB Jake Rudock, throwing from his own end zone, was picked off by Darius Hillary on the Hawkeye 20.
Stave hit Jared Abbrederis on the very next play, giving the Badgers a 14-6 lead with 7:34 left in the third.
Abbrederis had a couple of drops earlier in the game and stayed on the sidelines with a chest or rib issue as a result of the TD grab.
Despite getting gashed by a long run, the defense stiffened and forced a third field goal to make it 14-9 with 38 seconds in the third.
The Badgers took as chunk of the final stanza off the clock before punting it back to Iowa.
Beathard was then leveled by Trotter as he threw the ball.
Defensive lineman Pat Muldoon caught the floater, giving UW the ball and a chance to put the low-scoring game away.
Stave hit Pedersen for a big first down on the 11-yard line.
James White’s 40th career rushing TD on the next play gave some breathing room.
The lead was 21-9 with 6:39 to play.
White put the issue to rest with a 59-yard burst and later a two-yard TD run.
Next up for Bucky is a visit by the Cougars of BYU at Camp Randall Stadium.
Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m., CST.