MADISON, Wis. – For just the fifth time since 1961, the Iowa football team has a 5-0 record.
The Hawkeyes overcame a penalty-and-turnover marred second half to defeat Wisconsin 10-6 on Saturday before an announced attendance of 80,933 at Camp Randall Stadium.
This marks just the second time in 17 seasons under head coach Kirk Ferentz that Iowa has started with five consecutive victories. The Hawkeyes won their first nine games in 2009 and finished 11-2 overall.
Iowa also started 5-0 in 1985, 1986 and 1995 under former coach Hayden Fry.
"Today was just a really hard fought, tough physical game and I’m really proud of our football team and the effort they put out," Ferentz said. "It was something we knew would have to happen. We’ve got tremendous respect for Wisconsin and their football team. They’re just a tough team to play. It’s tough to come up here. It’s always a challenge to come to Madison. And for our guys to persevere and fight the way they did, I’m just really proud of them."
Senior running back Jordan Canzeri led the Hawkeyes with 125 rushing yards on 26 carries, while the Iowa defense held Wisconsin to just 86 rushing yards. The Badgers actually finished with more penalty yards (90) than rushing yards.
Iowa still hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown after five games this season.
"As long as we’re not allowing touchdowns to happen, that’s probably good for our defense and our team," said senior defensive end Drew Ott.
In addition to winning their second trophy game this season, Iowa also ended a three-game losing streak to the Badgers.
Trailing 10-6 with less than three minutes to play, Wisconsin took over at its own 47-yard line after Iowa was forced to punt. The Badgers drove to the Iowa 16-yard line, but the drive ended when quarterback Joel Stave threw an incompletion on fourth down.
The Badgers also drove to the Iowa 1-yard line midway in the fourth quarter, but the drive ended when Stave fumbled after being hit by Nate Meier, who had lined up as a nose guard on Iowa’s goal-line defense. Defensive tackle Faith Ekakitie then recovered the fumble at the Iowa 5-yard line.
"I think Nate Meier did a good job of popping it out of there," Ekakitie said. "I tried to be the first one there, and luckily I was."
Wisconsin trimmed the lead to 10-6 on a 46-yard field goal by Rafael Gaglianone with 3 minutes, 40 seconds left in the third quarter. His field goal came after Wisconsin strong safety Michael Caputo had intercepted a pass thrown by Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard near midfield.
Beathard had his least productive game as a Hawkeye, completing just 9-of-21 passes for one touchdown and one interception. But he also improved his record to 6-0 as Iowa’s starting quarterback. Beathard also led the Hawkeyes to a victory over Purdue last season.
"It was like a heavyweight fight," Beathard said. "You’re going to have those kinds of games.
"Obviously, it wasn’t clean on either side. But the defense played great and stepped up and did a great job."
Beathard’s touchdown pass – a 1-yarder to tight end George Kittle – gave Iowa a 7-3 lead with 2:59 left in the second quarter.
Wisconsin took the opening kick and drove to the Iowa 28-yard line with a mix of running and passing. However, the drive stalled and the Badgers settled for a 46-yard field goal by Gaglianone with 4:59 left in the first quarter.
After forcing the Badgers to punt late in the first quarter, Iowa took over at its own 49-yard line and drove to the Wisconsin 8. Instead of kicking a short field goal on fourth-and-2, the Hawkeyes tried to score a touchdown, but Beathard’s pass fell incomplete in the end zone.
The Hawkeyes put together another long drive in the second quarter, but it also resulted in no points when Marshall Koehn missed a 27-yard field goal with 6:29 left before halftime.
Iowa finally got on the scoreboard when Beathard connected with Kittle for the 1-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter.
Junior cornerback Desmond King helped set up the touchdown by returning his first of two interceptions on the day to the Badger 31.
Canzeri then had runs of 19 and six yards, moving the ball to the Wisconsin 6. Iowa combined to gain five yards on its next two plays, setting the stage for Beathard’s touchdown pass to Kittle.
Iowa benefitted from another Wisconsin turnover when Stave fumbled while being sacked by Iowa defensive end Drew Ott. Fellow defensive end Nate Meier recovered the fumble at the Badger 15 with 2:51 left in the second quarter.
The Hawkeyes drove to the Wisconsin 14, but settled for a 33-yard field goal by Koehn with 1:03 remaining in the second quarter, giving Iowa a 10-3 lead at halftime.
Canzeri had 79 of Iowa’s 99 rushing yards in the first half. Wisconsin was held to 44 rushing yards in the first half on 16 carries.