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MADISON, Wis. — Maybe there’s an amount of time that will make what happened to Iowa at Camp Randall Stadium OK. And maybe there isn’t.
A lot went into the No. 8 Badgers (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten) defense holding No. 20 Iowa (6-4, 3-4) to 66 yards of total offense. So far, that’s a low that keeps going. There was a Michigan game in 1978 that ended 34-0 for the Wolverines. That box score shows 69 yards of total offense for the Hawkeyes.
Let’s call off the search and get back to a lot went into the Badgers holding Iowa’s offense down. Credit where credit is due, the Badgers have a legit defense. With four sacks against Iowa, Wisconsin now has 35 this season, that’s tied for third in the nation. (Quick aside: In the last 10 seasons, Wisconsin has piled up 30-plus sacks five times. Iowa has done that twice.)
No major conclusions or concessions were reached or made during the postgame news conference. There never are. A result like this either causes supreme self examination for the coaching staff or gets chalked as an anomaly and flushed into the sewer system. Or maybe a little of both and maybe a little of both at the same time.
“We’ll look at it tomorrow, we’ll think about it for the next four hours going home, look at it tomorrow,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Then, we’re going to put it behind us and focus on beating our next opponent, and that’s really all you can do win, lose or draw.”
Purdue (4-6, 2-5) is next for the Hawkeyes (2:30 p.m. at Kinnick Stadium on Big Ten Network). This feels like a 55-24 victory. Or maybe a 38-14 loss with a historic low on offense. Or maybe something between bliss and disaster.
It’s perfectly OK to wonder where the Iowa that ran Ohio State out of Kinnick Stadium two weeks ago went. Ferentz didn’t have an answer. It’s his job to have an answer. How could anyone have an answer beyond alien abduction?
“You can’t explain it other than we just played clean football last week,” Ferentz said. “We didn’t do much to hurt ourselves. Also the quality of our opponent. They played a really great game. I’m not suggesting last week’s opponent (Ohio State) didn’t. These guys were playing at a real high level early on and we weren’t able to match that.”
These whiplash results aren’t exclusive to Iowa. Just look at the Buckeyes. 1) Amazing fourth-quarter comeback and a 39-38 victory over Penn State. 2) Woodshed, IA. 3) 48-3 over Michigan State last weekend, with 524 yards of total offense and 8.04 yards a play.
Ohio State isn’t immune to falling down the mountain and you have to respect its response to what happened in Iowa City.
Let’s see where the Hawkeyes take this. You owe them a chance to respond. They owe you a keen response. That’s how this is supposed to work.
“I thought we did a great job of putting it (the Ohio State success) behind us,” linebacker Josey Jewell said. “I didn’t think anyone thought about that game anymore. It was just another win. I think everyone did a great job on that, we just need a little more execution.”
Just like there might be a time when the effort at Camp Randall is filed and forgotten, there needs to be a time when the separation between Iowa and Wisconsin is discussed.
The permanence of postgame presser remarks, so often rooted in the result, however that goes, should only last as long as it takes a bowl of ice cream to melt.
“It’s been pretty much a back-and-fourth series,” Ferentz said. “They’ve got a really good football team. Tonight we played the 2017 team and that’s the only one that counts. You can see why they’re 9-0 and now they’re 10-0. They’ve earned that. They’ve got a really good football team on both sides of the ball. Their special teams played well. That’s why they’re sitting at 10-0 right now and I would assume ranked pretty high at the end of the weekend here in the national polls.”
Yes, if you skin this, the all-time series between Iowa and Wisconsin is 43-46-2 in favor of the Badgers. In football, it’s your job to covet your neighbor’s deck furniture.
The Badgers added another Big Ten West Division title, their third in four years. In the seven-year history of the Big Ten title game, Wisconsin will have played in five. This is Wisconsin’s fourth consecutive 10-win season. Wisconsin is 16-1 in trophy games (Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska) dating back to 2010. The Badgers have now won five of their last six meetings against Iowa.
The close series history thing is nice. Division titles and Big Ten championship games just look so much better out on the deck.
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