5 questions with Iowa football columnist Rick Brown

Rick Brown

This is a perfect situation for a Ferentz-coached team: home underdogs with all the pressure on the opposing team the week of the game. Iowa poses some real problems for Wisconsin. And let us not forget that the Badgers are not a multi-faceted offense. Passing is a problem. Give Gordon his and shut down the rest. If Northwestern can do it, so can the Hawkeyes.

I like the Northwestern analogy. Gordon had 259 yards in that loss. But Wisconsin's defense is better than it was against the Cats, with several guys, like NG Dan Herring, back in the lineup. The biggest concern for me, from an Iowa defense standpoint, is covering the edge. Iowa has done a poor job of that this season. Tevin Coleman of Indiana had his way with the Hawkeyes. If Gordon gets the opportunities that Coleman did, watch out. I think the Hawkeye defense learned a lot from that game. But we'll find out if they learned enough on Saturday.

Gordon only had 38 yards against Western Illinois (in 17 carries). Have our coaches looked at that game film and what Western Illinois did to contain him?

I'd actually pay more attention to the Maryland game. He had 122 yards in 22 carries in that game. And the Terps are ninth in the league in rush defense (Big Ten games only) and 10th overall.

What is your take on Derrick Willies?

I think he needs some better advice. You don't announce you'll be returning to the team you quit before discussing things with the head coach. I saw some message-board takes that said Kirk Ferentz better not screw this up. That puzzles me. You want him to greet the kid with open arms, two weeks left in the regular season, and get him right back in pads? My guess is that if Derrick is committed to returning, he'll be invited back for spring practice. In uniform for a bowl game? No way.

How does Wisconsin's quarterback compare to the quarterbacks of Maryland and Minnesota, both of whom killed us on the ground. Any mobility there?

Wisconsin uses two quarterbacks. Joel Stave is the better passer. Tanner McEvoy is the better runner. Probably not as good of a runner as C.J. Brown of Maryland, but better than Mitch Leidner of Minnesota. McEvoy has 53 carries for 498 yards (9.4 average) with 5 rushing TDs. Averages 49.8 yards a game.

After Brandon Scherff, who is the most likely Hawkeye drafted?

Andrew Donnal, the right offensive tackle.


Five of the nation's top 20 rushers currently reside in the Big Ten. Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin is first, Tevin Coleman of Indiana second, David Cobb of Minnesota seventh, Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska ninth and Jeremy Langford of Michigan State 19th. No other league has more than three (Pac-12). … Remember earlier this season, when the Big Ten was considered a national punch line for poor football? Well, the league now has a leading Heisman Trophy contender in Gordon, and four teams are ranked in this week's Associated Press Top 25: Ohio State is No. 7, Michigan State No. 10, Wisconsin No. 14 and Nebraska No. 21. The Buckeyes are also No. 6 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. … One way to put Gordon's 408 yards against Nebraska in perspective: He gained the equivalent of 1,224 footlong sandwiches from Subway. … With Penn State and Rutgers winning last week, the Big Ten now has nine bowl-eligible teams.


Minnesota (7-3, 4-2 Big Ten) at Nebraska (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten) — This 11 a.m. duel (ESPN) will probably tell us more about Nebraska than the Gophers. Reeling from Melvin Gordon's record-setting assault last week, the Cornhuskers will be looking to rebound against a team that lost at Illinois in their last road game. Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah and Minnesota's David Cobb headline their team's respective running games. But both have top-notch receivers as well: Maxx Williams at Minnesota (25 catches, 373 yards, seven touchdowns) and Kenny Bell (36 catches, 591 yards, three touchdowns) and Jordan Westerkamp (34 catches, 606 yards, four touchdowns) at Nebraska.