On the surface, winning a game at home over Iowa by four points when the Hawkeyes were watching injuries pile up from the get-go, might not seem like anything to get too excited about. But watching Wisconsin's 17-13 win on Saturday night, I finally saw a team that looked like they might live up to the expectations of those of us who projected them to win the Big Ten.
Iowa's defense is first-rate and I don't see them ever being beaten decisively. Mitch King was unstoppable in the interior of the defensive line and Kenny Iwebema remains a force on the outside. And the Hawks demonstrated again just how well-coached they are. They were on the road with a young team and didn't make any mistakes. In the end, they nearly stole a win, and they sent a clear message that even if this isn't a big year, no one's going to ring up style points against them.
Wisconsin was able to counter with an aggressive defense that turned in a shutdown effort. With the exception of an inexplicable meltdown right before halftime (a meltdown aided considerably by a horrid no-call on what should have been offensive interference on the Iowa touchdown), the Badger defense was in complete control for the first time all season. And for all the problems the Iowa D gave them, the UW offensive front was able to assert itself as the game wore on and P.J. Hill went over the 100-yard mark by taking it over in the fourth quarter.
UW still has some issues to deal with--they'll have to play D against more potent offensive threats, and they must take better care of the football then they did on Saturday night. Losing the turnover battle 3-0 is not a stunt that can be repeated. But the performance of the defense and the offensive line was a breath of fresh air in Madison.
Ohio State made its own statement with a demolition of Northwestern. Tim May and Ken Gordon of The Columbus Dispatch debate whether the 58-7 romp was a question of the Buckeyes being that good or the Wildcats mailing it in.