Wisconsin has owned the last three matchups in the battle for the Heartland Trophy, but thanks to five total turnovers the big bull of a trophy is heading back to the Iowa Hawkeyes trophy case. Joel Stave threw two interceptions and the Badgers (3-2, 0-1 B1G) fumbled the football three times en route to a 10-6 loss to the Hawkeyes (5-0, 1-0 B1G).
No turnover was bigger than Staveâ€™s final fumble though, as the Badgers were about to take advantage of a turnover forced inside Iowa territory down 10-6. With the ball at the two yard line, Stave was stepped on at the line and tried to get the hand off going, only to see the ball fall short and Iowa recovered.
The senior quarterback had a day to largely forget, going 21 of 38 passing for 234 yards. He couldnâ€™t find the end zone and was responsible for four of the Badgersâ€™ five total turnovers.
Stave did have his moments, but couldnâ€™t put it all together when it counted. He missed on multiple fourth down opportunities, and the game ended with Stave off the mark to tight end Troy Fumagalli on a 4th-and-2 situation.
Iowa used an efficient run game and timely passing to execute its game plan to perfection. The Hawkeyes outgained Wisconsin 145 to 86 on the ground, and held the Badgers to just one red zone opportunity in the game.
Quarterback C.J. Beathard was a huge difference maker, especially on the lone touchdown drive of the game. He went just 9 of 21 passing for 77 yards, but was able to use his escapability around the goal line to execute a perfect bootleg and connected on a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end George Kittle.
Defensively, Joe Schobert nearly kept his team in the game single handily. He ended the day like this:
Joe Schobert's day: 8 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 forced fubmles, 1 fumble recover, 3 sacks and 5 QB hurries. Work for you? Works for us.
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) October 3, 2015
With the Badgers needing a big play, Schobert got it done late in the fourth quarter. He beat Iowaâ€™s left tackle off the edge, got the fumble and sack on Beathard and then as the ball scooted forward he made the recovery before it went out of bounds.
The recovery happened at the Iowa 27-yard line and six plays later the Badgers were at the 1-yard line. However, thatâ€™s when Stave fumbled with 7 minutes, 44 seconds to play. It proved to be costly, as Wisconsin never sniffed the end zone or red zone again in the contest.
Iowa running back Jordan Canzeri worked hard, pounding out 125 yards on 29 carries, becoming the first 100-yard rusher allowed by the Badgers since the opener against Alabama.
Wisconsinâ€™s woes werenâ€™t just on offense or against the Hawkeyes rushing attack, as kicker Rafael Gaglianone missed one of his three field goal attempts. He pushed his second field goal from 42 yards out, pushing it wide left, which put him at just 4 of 7 on the season.
The Badgers will look to regroup and refocus as they play at Nebraska for the Freedom Trophy next Saturday.