Courier Staff Writer
IOWA CITY — Iowa had five drives reach Wisconsin territory in the first half. The Badgers had only two drives into Hawkeye territory to counter.
As it would turn out, one drive and one play is all Wisconsin would need to overcome all of Iowa’s numerous chances. The first Badger drive to cross the 50-yard-line ended with a 44-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Joel Stave to Jacob Pedersen, giving No. 24 Wisconsin a 7-6 lead at halftime over the Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium.
Wisconsin’s lead could have been more as a second drive into Iowa territory at the end of the half gave Badger kicker Kyle French a chance to add a 54-yard field goal. French blasted home what appeared to be an impressive long-distance make, but Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz called timeout just before the play got underway to nullify the kick.
Two more timeouts by Ferentz later, French left his second attempt short, putting a buzz back in Kinnick Stadium as the Hawkeyes maintained a one-point deficit.
Iowa’s offense had several opportunities to make sure one touchdown pass would not be enough to put Wisconsin ahead. While the Badgers went without a first down on the first four drives of the game, Iowa reached Wisconsin territory on each of its first four possessions.
The Hawkeye drives all were stalled by the Badgers. Only one was close enough to produce points as Mike Meyer hit a 28-yard field goal for the only points of the first quarter.
A third down pickup, one of just two gained by Iowa in the first half, started the Hawkeyes only other scoring drive. Quarterback Jake Rudock hit Tevaun Smith for 17 yards after the first down and found Damon Bullock on a 24-yard catch and run to set up Iowa inside the Wisconsin 20.
A fourth-down pickup set Iowa up with a goal-to-go, but an injury to starting right guard Jordan Walsh forced a shift in the offensive line. A false start by backup guard Andrew Donnal pushed Iowa too far back for Rudock to reach the end zone on a four-yard run, forcing Meyer on for a 22-yard field goal that, at the time, doubled Iowa’s 3-0 lead.
To follow Scott Jackson's Twitter feed, go to @stjack423