MADISON, Wis. — Footballs continue to find their way into Josh Jackson’s hands, and the Iowa cornerback knows what to do with them.
The junior returned interceptions 43 and 52 yards for touchdowns Saturday to provide the Hawkeyes with their only scores in a 38-14 loss at sixth-ranked Wisconsin.
"I’m trying to prepare well and play well each game," said Jackson, who has intercepted five passes in Iowa’s last two games. "I’m just doing what I can to help our team. That’s the goal."
The interceptions were the sixth and seventh of the season for Jackson — topped only by the school single-season record of eight shared by Nile Kinnick, Lou King and Desmond King.
His first pick-six, coming on the fourth play of the game, was the first of his collegiate career and gave Iowa a 7-0 lead with 13 minutes, 30 seconds left in the opening quarter.
"We saw a formation on film that we felt we could make a play on, and when I saw the ball and saw the route, I knew I had a chance," Jackson said.
Jackson also forced a fumble, a first in his career, in the loss.
Returning two interceptions for a touchdown is a rarity.
It last happened in a single game for Iowa in 2013 when B.J. Lowery had a pair of pick-sixes in a game against Western Michigan.
Another pick: Davenport Assumption alum Jake Gervase recorded the second interception of his career in the first quarter Saturday, denying the Badgers on a deep ball he picked off at Iowa’s 6-yard line.
"It was set up for them to look deep, and when I saw the receiver break loose, I was with him, and I turned around and the ball was right there," Gervase said.
No traction: Iowa running backs James Butler and Akrum Wadley combined for 53 rushing yards, averaging 3.8 and 2.9 yards per carry respectively.
"It was the opposite of last week," Wadley said, referencing the 6.4 yards per rush Iowa averaged a week earlier against Ohio State. "The holes, they weren’t there, and we didn’t handle adversity the way we did last game."
Wadley, who totaled 23 yards on eight carries, said Wisconsin had plenty to do with that.
"We knew they had a good defense but they played a great game," Wadley said. "They just didn’t give us much of a chance."
Defensive difference: Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst enjoyed watching the work of the Badgers’ defense, calling it one of the best performances he has been a part of as a coach.
"It was fun to watch," Chryst said. "Not only the performance by some of the situations they were put into, but the great energy I saw from them as a team. And boy, were there some plays made. It was a heck of a performance."
Tough day: After combining for nine receptions a week earlier against Ohio State, Wisconsin didn’t let Iowa’s tight ends have a chance to factor into the game’s outcome.
T.J. Hockenson had the only reception by a Hawkeye tight end, gaining 6 yards on a third-quarter catch that was followed shortly by a ball just beyond the reach of Noah Fant.
"That’s kind of been our season," coach Kirk Ferentz said. "We’re not good enough offensively not to execute. Little misses on throw, inches make a difference."
Chryst said the Badgers "did a heck of a job" defending the Hawkeye tight ends.
Hooker out: Iowa starting strong safety Amani Hooker sat out Saturday’s game, the result of a contusion which happened during the Hawkeyes’ win over Ohio State after his game-opening pick-six.
Gervase started at free safety and senior Miles Taylor returned to the lineup at strong safety in Hooker’s absence. Taylor’s start was the 30th of his career. Hooker had started five of the past six games for Iowa, the last three at strong safety after opening at free safety in the Hawkeyes’ first two Big Ten games.
Honoring veterans: In honor of Veterans Day and those who are now serving the country in the military, red, white and blue Tigerhawk logos replaced the normal gold logos on Hawkeye helmets for Saturday’s game.
Still rusty, still Bucky: For the seventh straight year, Wisconsin managers won the Rusty Toolbox, an actual tool box that has become a traveling trophy for a flag football game played between student managers of the Iowa and Wisconsin football teams.
The Badgers edged their peers from Iowa 19-7 in a game played at Wisconsin’s indoor facility.
Hawkeye and Badger student managers first played for the toolbox in 1991, and since 1995, the game has been played the night before Iowa and Wisconsin meet on the field.
Season's greetings: Saturday’s top-25 match-up attracted a number of bowl scouts to Camp Randall Stadium.
Representatives of the Orange, Fiesta, Peach, Citrus, Outback and TaxSlayer bowls were in attendance.
Bear down: Five NFL teams had scouts at Saturday’s game.
That included the Chicago Bears, whose three-person entourage included general manager Ryan Pace.