IOWA CITY, Iowa. - The Wisconsin Badgers ground out a 28-9 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday afternoon, holding the Hawkeyes to just 294 offensive yards and three field goals.
And while Iowa's offense has been less than fearsome for most of this season, the Badgers managed to keep the Hawkeyes in check even without two key contributors on defense. Senior linebacker Chris Borland missed the game with a hamstring injury, and defensive end Tyler Dippel didn't make the trip to Iowa with the rest of the team.
Wisconsin officials said Dippel is back home in California to deal with a family matter, but Andersen said he was proud of how his team played even without two of their senior leaders.
"One thing I'm going to remember this team for forever, regardless of what happens through the rest of the season, is that they're never phased," Andersen said after the game. "The next kid that's gotta go in, whether its on offense, defense or special teams, they seem prepared to go in to the moment.
Andersen credited Marcus Trotter for stepping up in Borland's absence. Trotter led the team with nine tackles in the game, including 1.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry. It was obvious at times that Trotter doesn't have Borland's athleticism, but Andersen said his team wasn't deflated when Borland decided he wasn't healthy enough to go during pre-game warm ups.
"The most important part of that is they rally around each other," Andersen said. "Nobody thought we would go out there and play poorly on defense because Marcus was going to be in there and Borland wasn't going to play. They knew Marcus would play well, and it speaks highly for those kids and the faith they have for each other."
Defensive end Pat Muldoon also stepped up in Dippel's place, taking several more snaps in the game than he normally would have if Dippel were available. Muldoon had just one tackle in the game, but he went up and pulled down a key interception in the fourth quarter that sealed Wisconsin's win.
The Badgers also lost wide receiver Jared Abbrederis for the rest of the game in the middle of the third quarter, after he caught a pass from Joel Stave for a 20-yard touchdown. Abbrederis took a big hit during the play, and trainers were looking at his chest and ribs on the sideline before he went to the locker room.
Andersen said he expects Abbrederis to be fine, and the healthier the Badgers are after this physical game the better off they'll be going forward. Borland said after the game he expects to play next week against BYU, while Andersen said he's hoping Dippel will return to practice at the middle of next week.
News and notes:
-- The game was back and forth for most of the first half, with the Badgers and the Hawkeyes trading three and outs early and often. But the Badgers were able to convert both of Iowa's turnovers into touchdowns, whereas the Hawkeyes had to punt after Stave threw an interception on his first attempt of the game.
-- The Badgers also held slight edges in a few other key categories during the game. They held Iowa to just four third down conversions on 18 attempts, and scored touchdowns on all three of their redzone trips, while the Hawkeyes were held to field goals in each of their three possessions. The Badgers also out-scored the Hawkeyes 14-0 in the fourth quarter, and flipped the average starting field position to their advantage in the second, third, and fourth quarter after the Hawkeyes started three of their first four drives in UW territory.
-- The Badgers had a few issues in the punt return game, with Kenzel Doe missing one catch and nearly touching another kick, which would have made it a live ball. The Badgers also narrowly avoided a crucial error on punt coverage, when Dezmen Southward was able to avoid touching the ball, which would have given the Hawkeyes excellent field position.
-- With the win the Badgers now hold the all-time series lead against the Hawkeyes, improving their record to 43-42-2 against the Hawkeyes. Next year's game is also scheduled to be in Iowa City, as a result of the Big Ten re-aligning their divisional lineup when Maryland and Rutgers join the conference next year. Including 2010's 31-30 Wisconsin win, that would make three straight games in Kinnick Stadium in the series.
-- The wind was a big factor in Saturday's game, with both Iowa and Wisconsin struggling offensively when they were driving towards the north endzone. The wind averaged at about 13 miles per hour out of the northwest, and Badgers punter Drew Meyer struggled with his kicking in particular.
The Badgers switched to a ruby-style punt on a few of their kicks, but results were mixed at best with one punt nearly getting blocked and the other a line-drive that ended up at Iowa's own 1-yard line. Meyer averaged 23 yards between three punts in the first half, when the wind was in his face. He finished the game averaging just under 34 yards per punt, with a long of 50 yards and two that pinned the Hawkeyes inside their own 20-yard line.
-- Jack Russell will have to wait at least another week to convert his first collegiate field goal, as the 54-yarder he made at the end of the first half was negated when the Hawkeyes took their first time out of the half to ice him. Kirk Ferentz then used his final two time outs back-to-back to make Russell wait even longer for his second try, which he missed wide to the right.
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