Badgers defense shows there’s life without Borland in win over Hawkeyes

The Heartland Trophy hasn't been seen on a sideline since 2010 at Kinnick Stadium and thanks in large part to the Badgers defense its traveling the same route home as it did that fateful day. 

Wisconsin now leads the all-time series with Iowa at 43-42-2—ultimate bragging rights baby! 

Sure, one could point to James White and his 132 yards or Joel Stave's big play ability as the keys to the game, but when White, Gordon and Stave weren't getting it done early in this one, it was Wisconsin's defense that kept them in this one. 

The amazing part? Wisconsin did it without star linebacker Chris Borland. 

The senior linebacker suited up to play, but just wasn't ready enough. His "want to" (Gary Andersen's first buzzword) to play in this one was written all over his face—through his facemask as he stood suited up and helmet on, ready to play. 

Yet, the Badgers didn't need Borland. 

If anything it speaks to the depth, the preparation that the players and coaches put in during the week and the faith the coaching staff has in the players to make plays on gameday. 

Did Wisconsin scheme differently with Borland out? If they did it wasn't noticeable and that's a credit to his replacement Marcus Trotter. 

After leading the Badgers with Trotter did it again this week, topping the tackles chart with nine and adding 1.5 tackles for loss on the day against the Hawkeyes. 

Trotter wasn't the only linebacker to stand out either, as Brendan Kelly had a fine game himself—recording 6 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks. 

We also have this bit of awesomeness Pat Muldoon. 

That fat guy interception was one of two for the Badgers on the day and both were extremely "athletic" plays. 

Darius Hillary came down, sort of one-handed with the other interception at a critical time in the game. 

After Wisconsin failed to convert its opening drive of the 2nd half to points for just the third time all season, Darius Hillary picked off Jake Rudock on the first pass from his own endzone. 

It would be Rudock's final play of the day as he suffered a knee injury planting under pressure from the Badgers.

For the Badgers offense it was the catalyst they needed, scoring on the very next play when Joel Stave hooked up with Jared Abbrederis for a 20-yard touchdown pass. 

On the day the Badgers allowed more yards than one would like, but for the fourth time this season—and second in Big Ten play—Wisconsin held a team out of the endzone.  

If that doesn't speak to the talent and depth the Badgers defense possesses, nothing will.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site