IOWA CITY, Iowa – If you’re looking for positives in the wake of Iowa’s 17-9 loss to Wisconsin on Saturday, start on defense.
And maybe end there, too.
Iowa’s defense held Wisconsin’s potent rushing attack to 167 yards despite being on the field for over 37 minutes and despite being without starting defensive tackle Nathan Bazata for an extended period due to an ankle injury.
Junior linebacker Josey Jewell matched a career high with 16 tackles, but it wasn’t enough to keep Iowa from losing its third consecutive game at Kinnick Stadium.
"We just have to understand it comes down to execution and discipline during a game like this," Jewell said. "We’re going up against a great team and being able to be disciplined and being able to execute on the plays you need to execute on, those third and ones, being able to make them punt, stuff like that.
"We just have to look at how to get better from this film and keep trying to improve."
Iowa’s defense has steadily shown signs of improvement since allowing an average of 210 yards rushing per game during a three-game span against North Dakota State, Rutgers and Northwestern. In the three games since then, the Iowa defense is allowing just over half of that total.
"As a unit we really made a decision after Northwestern," senior defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson said. "We really just put our mind to it. We were tired of teams really running on us. All throughout the week we just focused on coming off the ball, getting off blocks and really getting into the backfield and causing havoc and we applied that to the games. It’s just a matter of what we do throughout the week and we just take that and try to apply it to the game on Saturday.
"First half I feel like our run defense did pretty okay, pretty good. There were some things we didn’t do too well that we need to clean up but other than that I think we played really hard as a defensive unit."
Trophy taken: With Saturday’s victory, Wisconsin now has won 12 of its last 13 trophy games. The lone defeat was against Iowa last season by a 10-6 score in Madison, Wis.
The Badgers gained possession of the Heartland Trophy with Saturday’s victory and also snapped Iowa’s streak of six consecutive victories in trophy games. Iowa has successfully defended the Cy-Hawk Trophy against Iowa State and Floyd of Rosedale against Minnesota so far this season. The Hawkeyes will host Nebraska on Nov. 25 in defense of the Heroes Trophy.
Injury report: Senior tight end George Kittle started Saturday’s game, but left in the second quarter after aggravating a foot injury that he suffered against Purdue the previous Saturday.
Senior right tackle Cole Croston returned to the starting lineup after missing the Purdue game with a leg injury. He started in place of junior left tackle Boone Myers, who missed Saturday’s game because of ankle injury that he suffered against Purdue.
Junior Ike Boettger moved to left tackle for the Wisconsin game, while sophomore Keegan Render made his second career start at left guard.
Former coaches in attendance: Former Iowa and Wisconsin assistant coach Dan McCarney was in attendance on Saturday. McCarney left Iowa after the 1989 season to become the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin.
McCarney watched Saturday’s gamefrom the press box, along with Bobby Elliott, who is the son of former Iowa athletic director Bump Elliott and a former Hawkeye assistant coach. Bobby Elliott is now an assistant coach for Notre Dame, which had a bye week.
Recruit watch: Iowa commits Beau Corrales and Peyton Mansell were among over 30 recruits who attended Saturday’s game. Mansell made the 14-hour drive with his high school teammate and 2018 safety Garrison Vaughn, who also has received attention from Iowa.
Mansell and Corrales are among six Texas natives who are committed to Iowa’s 2017 recruiting class.
Career days: Junior running back Akrum Wadley led the Hawkeyes in receiving with 72 yards on seven catches on Saturday. He also led the team in rushing with 44 yards on 10 carries.
Senior defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson recorded a career-high two sacks, which came on back-to-back plays at the end of the third quarter.
Red zone success: Iowa was 2-for-3 in the red zone on Saturday, both of which were field goals. Iowa entered the game 23-of-24 in the red zone, including 19 touchdowns, which led the Big Ten.
True freshman Keith Duncan missed a 38-yard field goal on the drive in which Iowa failed to convert in the red zone.