Iowa knocks off Wisconsin for third straight win.

A defensive battle throughout. But Iowa just made more plays

A pick-six from quarterback Graham Mertz and a 41-yard return from Cooper DeJean was the difference in Iowa’s 24-10 victory to claim the Heartland trophy and their third straight win.

Wisconsin’s defense played about as well as they could have; sacking Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras six times and holding them to 146 total yards for the game.

Wisconsin got nothing from their offense. Quarterback Graham Mertz went 16/35 for 176 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Mertz had a tough time throwing against Iowa’s stingy defense and outside of a 51-yard touchdown pass to Keontez Lewis at the end of the first half, Iowa’s defense imposed its will in the second half.

Running back Braelon Allen had a tough time getting going against the 8th-ranked rushing defense in college football. Allen had 17 carries for 40 yards on 2.4 yards a carry. Allen’s longest run of the day was eight yards as the offensive line had a tough time opening up holes for Allen to run through.

Special teams also didn’t perform well on Saturday. A punt block led to an Iowa touchdown and a big return from Iowa’s Cooper DeJean led to an Iowa touchdown to go up 21-10.

Wisconsin doesn’t have a special teams coordinator this season. Paul Chryst before the season chose to promote special teams coordinator Chris Haering to tight ends coach and opted to have multiple coaches run special teams responsibilities. Jim Leonhard has said if he is made permanent head coach he wants a “dynamic special teams unit.” and added “Whatever that takes, it takes. If that’s someone dedicated to a full-time, but you need to be able to create momentum with your special teams and you need to be able to stop the bleeding at times when things get rough.”

Wisconsin plays at Nebraska next Saturday at 11:00 a.m. on ESPN.

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