MADISON – Complete, total, absolute domination.
That’s the most accurate way to describe the defensive effort given by Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon against the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Badgers held Iowa to just 66 total yards of offense on the day, with all 14 of their points coming via Josh Jackson interceptions returned for touchdowns. In fact, Jackson’s 95 yards of return yardage was 29 yards more than the Hawkeyes were able to muster offensively on the day.
“That’s not bad, we’ll take it,” linebacker T.J. Edwards said after the game when learning of the yardage his unit allowed against Iowa.
Last week against the vaunted Ohio State Buckeyes, Iowa was dominant offensively. They totaled 487 yards of total offense, threw for five touchdowns, and ran for another en route to putting up 55 points.
The Badgers were able to create pressure all afternoon long, getting to Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley four times and creating three turnovers, including a Leon Jacobs 21-yard fumble return for a touchdown. Wisconsin turned up the heat on defense unlike they, or anyone else, has all season. This was a statement game for the Badgers, and their defense stepped up and made a loud one.
“There are still a couple things we’ve got to clean up,” defensive lineman Alec James said. “As far as the whole year, that was probably the most complete game we played as a defense.”
Twice in the 2017 season has an FBS offense been held to 66 or fewer yards. Those instances occurred when TCU held lowly Kansas to 21 total yards, and the same Ohio State defense that was torched by Iowa last week was able to hold Maryland to 66 yards.
“For sure so far this season,” linebacker Ryan Connelly said after the game when asked if it felt like the most dominant performance he’s been a part of. “We were pretty confident in everything we were doing and we didn’t think they were going to be able to move it on us.”
Connelly finished with nine tackles, a sack, a quarterback hurry, and a forced fumble on the day. He was just one of a few Badgers that was at the top of their game.
“They can take it how they want it,” defensive back Derrick Tindal said on whether or not the win over 20th ranked Iowa was a statement to the country by the Badgers. “We’re just going out here and playing our football. Having fun, enjoying the game while we can. At the end of the day if we keep winning, they’re going to have to notice us soon.”
It will certainly be hard for the country to miss the statement Wisconsin’s defense put forth Saturday.