Losers of two straight games versus Big Ten rivals Northwestern and Indiana, the No. 25 University of Wisconsin football team fell to 2-2 on the season and don’t look very promising as they travel to Iowa City to face the No. 19 Iowa Hawkeyes. 

It feels like years ago that this Badgers team throttled the Michigan Wolverines 49-11 behind two Graham Mertz touchdown passes, a monster game from Jalen Berger and two touchdowns on the ground from Nakia Watson. Morale was the highest it’s seemingly ever been on campus following the Michigan game — Mertz was a Heisman hopeful and Wisconsin was potentially going to be in the playoff race. 

Or so we thought. 

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The next week, the walls caved in and the engine stopped moving. The team that just scored 49 to decimate Michigan traveled to Evanston and fell apart against the Northwestern Wildcats, 17-7. 

Needing a rebound, the Badgers hosted the Indiana Hoosiers hoping to turn their season around. Instead, it happened again, the Badgers came out flat, losing the game 14-6. 

As a whole, the Badgers, their players, coaches and fans collectively need to put that dry spell behind them. In both games, redshirt freshman quarterback Mertz struggled hard, turning the ball over multiple times in each game. The defense looked great, but didn’t have an offense to help them out.

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Opening as two point favorites, the Badgers have no choice but to play their last game on Saturday, needing a win to finish the season with a winning record against the No. 16 Iowa Hawkeyes. 

Winners in seven of the last 10 meetings, including three straight games between the two schools, Wisconsin is going to have to lean on their defense to halt the Hawkeyes’ attack. The Badgers defense is ranked No. 1 in the nation in yards per game, letting up just 229.0 combined rushing and passing yards. The Badgers defense also allows opponents to convert third down conversions just 24% of the time, a bad matchup for the Hawkeyes’ offense, who are terrible on third down conversions. 

For the Hawkeyes, they have to hope the Wisconsin offense continues to be flat-out bad this weekend. Since the Badgers’ top two wide receivers, Kendric Pryor and Danny Davis went down with injuries versus Michigan, the offense hasn’t looked even close to the same. 

For the Badgers to pull this off and save their season, they must limit turnovers, feed Berger the ball and force Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras to beat their defense with his arm. It is Petras’ first year under center for the Hawkeyes and it has been a long one, being ranked the No. 93 passer in the nation at one point this season by ProFootballFocus. 

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My hopeful prediction is that the Badgers will come out motivated and will win this game in a close battle. It’s never easy traveling to Iowa City and winning games, especially for the Badgers, who always seem to play close games against the Hawkeyes. 

If they fail to win this game and finish the season 2-3 and losers of three straight games to ranked Big Ten rivals, I can imagine the team will see some major changes in the offseason.

Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, and will be televised on FS1. Expect a low scoring, defensive battle.