Defense is King in Iowa's upset of Wisconsin
MADISON -- Iowa and defensive back Desmond King took advantage of a mistake-proneWisconsin offense to help the Hawkeyes pull off an upset.
King, a junior from Detroit, had two interceptions as Iowa toppled No. 19 Wisconsin 10-6 on Saturday in the teams' Big Ten Conference opener at Camp Randall Stadium.
It was the second multi-interception game of the season for King, who said as Iowa's offense struggled, its defense was focused on halting Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes' defense heldWisconsin to its lowest points total (three) in the first half of a game this season.
"Once our offense couldn't get anything done, we knew the game was going to be our defense," King said. "Our goal was to keep them at a minimum scoring."
Iowa QB C.J. Beathard had a solid performance in his first full-time season under center for the Hawkeyes. The junior completed 9 of 21 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown.
Beathard threw one interception as the Hawkeyes snapped the Badgers' three-game winning streak in the series. The Hawkeyes are 5-0 for the first time since 2009, and fourth time under coach Kirk Ferentz.
Meanwhile, Stave completed 21 of 38 passes for 234 yards, with two interceptions and three fumbles.
Senior running back Jordan Canzeri assumed the bulk of the ground work with 26 carries for 125 yards for Iowa.
The Hawkeyes capitalized on a couple Badgers turnovers to grab the momentum late in the first half.
It started when King intercepted Stave's pass and took the ball 15 yards to Wisconsin's 31-yard line. Two plays later, tight end George Kittle's 1-yard touchdown run made it 7-3 with 2:59 left in the second quarter.
Stave succumbed to pressure on the first play of the subsequent series, when Iowa defensive lineman Drew Ott forced a fumble, which was picked up by defensive end Nate Meier and taken to the Badgers' 15-yard line.
But Wisconsin's defense showed its red-zone prowess and held Iowa to a field goal four plays later, a 33-yarder by Marshall Koehn with1:03 to go in the first half that made it 10-3.
The Badgers got on the board less than four minutes into the game, courtesy of kicker Rafael Gaglianone, who drilled a 46-yard field goal to make it 3-0.
The sophomore's second 46-yarder trimmed Iowa's lead to 10-6 with 3:40 left in the third, but he also missed a 42-yard attempt in the second. Gaglianone is 6-of-10 this season after missing three field goal tries in 2014.
Wisconsin outside linebacker Joe Schobert provided a late chance for a rally with a sack, forced fumble and recovery of Beathard's bobble with 11:02 left.
On the next series - on second-and-goal from the Iowa 1-yard line, Stave botched a snap on a handoff to running back Taiwan Deal, who couldn't fall on the ball, as Iowa defensive end Faith Ekakitie scooped it up.
Wisconsin failed to threaten in its final drive as dropped passes, penalties and miscommunication ended any chance for the win.
It didn't help that the Badgers were without one of Stave's favorite targets, wide receiver Alex Erickson, for almost the entire second half. Erickson was injured after a catch at 13:08 of the third quarter, and went to the locker room to be put through concussion procedures. Erickson had caught 23 passes from Stave for 320 yards and one touchdown.
Stave said the Badgers battled Saturday despite the miscues, but the goal-line fumble was particularly tough.
"I guess I should just tuck it, but it happens quick," Stave said. "It was a disappointing play. A lot of credit goes to (Iowa), they did a good job getting a good drive up front by the defensive line, and it made us tough for us."
Furthermore, Ferentz said the Hawkeyes are gaining confidence with their effort in late-game situations, especially the way they've responded in the final minutes. Koehn had a 57-yard field goal as time expired two weeks ago in Iowa's 27-24 home win against Pitt.
"You talk about playing the full 60 (minutes), and the both of those required that," Ferentz said. "This one maybe just a little shorter than that. Those are things that all help build a football team, if the team has the right attitude."
Schobert was the biggest positive in Wisconsin's performance, finishing with an impressive statistics line of eight tackles - 3.5 for loss - and three sacks. The senior forced two fumbles and had one fumble recovery.
Wisconsin failed to win a Big Ten opener for a second straight year and coach Paul Chryst said the team's inconsistency on both sides was a factor. The Badgers rushed for 86 yards and 2.5 yards per carry, and that performance won't stack up well against league opponents. Wisconsinwas 4-of-13 on third down conversions.
"I think it's really hard, especially if you're not good on third down in the pass game," Chryst said. "There are going to be games when you've got to win it running the football, and you've got to win throwing the ball, and I don't think we were consistent enough at either one today."
NOTES: Iowa's second-quarter touchdown broke a Badgers' streak. Wisconsin had not allowed a touchdown in 215 minutes, three seconds, going back to the fourth quarter of Wisconsin's loss against Alabama on Sept. 5. ... RT Jacob Maxwell got his first career start at on the offensive line for Wisconsin, subbing for injured Hayden Biegel. Maxwell joined RG Micah Kapoi and LG Michael Deiter, as the Badgers started three redshirt freshmen on the offensive line for the first time since 1997. ... Iowa QB C.J. Beathard entered the Wisconsin game undefeated in five career starts. In his first four games, the junior completed 75 of 110 passes for 962 yards, six touchdowns and one interception.