Brown: Iowa-Wisconsin a brawl, not a beauty contest

Rick Brown
Iowa fullback, catching his only pass of the season against Pittsburgh two weeks ago, will be a key player vs. Wisconsin.

MADISON, Wis. — Macon Plewa can’t wait.

“Definitely a fullback’s dream game,” Plewa said.

Iowa and Wisconsin meet in Saturday’s 11 a.m. Big Ten opener at Camp Randall Stadium. And yes, both teams will use fullbacks. That suits Plewa, a Wisconsin native and Iowa’s starting fullback, just fine.

“Every game, I try to lay the wood,” said Plewa, who came to Iowa as a walk-on linebacker from Franklin, Wis. “It’s always a little added incentive, playing Wisconsin.”

Saturday’s game will be a fist fight, not a beauty pageant. Physical, and hard-hitting. A battle of brain and brawn.

“Two teams that pride themselves in running the ball,” said Plewa, who has one catch and no carries and is as important to Iowa’s running game as Jordan Canzeri.

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Saturday’s game will be tough work for Plewa and his grandfather. Don Vander Velden has always been a Wisconsin fan.

“I’m guessing it’s going to be hard for him, wearing the black and gold,” Plewa said. “But he said as long as I’m playing, he’s going to be cheering for the Hawks. I know it’s going to be tough for him, because he bleeds red and white. Unfortunately.”

This game will be short on deception, big on execution. Here’s what we do. Try and stop us.

“It’s not like they’ve got 43 blitzes that you have to pick up, but they know what to do and when to do it,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “And to me, that’s the definition of really good football.”

Wisconsin has been the definition of really good football for many years. Iowa was there for a long run, too. But the Badgers passed them after a stunning 31-30 victory at Kinnick Stadium in 2010. That was the first of three straight victories for Wisconsin in the series. All three were at Kinnick.

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“They’ve been the powerhouse in the Western Division,” Plewa said. “They’ve been what we want to be. And we’re going to try and get after them.”

Plewa shares fullback duties with Adam Cox. Wisconsin used two fullbacks at the same time against Hawaii, a move that brought life to its running game.

This will be the bullies of Big Ten football. Times two. And the last man standing will take a big step forward in the Western Division race.

Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.