Top Wisconsin defender Chris Borland will test his injured hamstring on the practice field today, the play of Louis Trinca-Pasat on the Iowa defensive line pleases coach Kirk Ferentz and the Heartland Trophy won’t be the only prize on the line this weekend in Iowa City.
That is all part of today’s Hawkeye 10 @ 10, your daily dose of Hawkeye news and notes that appears each weekday at 10 a.m. at hawkmania.com.
Here is today’s Hawkeye 10 @ 10:
1. Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon has been bombarded with questions about his recruitment by Iowa and his verbal commitment and later de-commitment from the Hawkeye program.
He told the Wisconsin State Journal on Monday that ultimately, it came down to a desire to remain closer to his family and his hometown of Kenosha, Wis.
“It was just about being closer to home, and the atmosphere,’’ said Gordon, who leads the Big Ten in rushing with an average of 144.6 yards per game.
“Like I said earlier, I fell in love with Iowa. You go back to me of the pictures I had custom-made hats with Iowa put on them. I had Iowa gear, but sometimes, just later in recruitment, you get a change of heart.’’
2. The Heartland Trophy isn’t the only prize on the line this weekend in Iowa City.
The resumption of the Iowa-Wisconsin series also brings the resumption of the Rusty Toolbox Game, a flag football game between managers of the two programs that has traditionally been played the night before the Hawkeyes and Badgers take the field.
At stake is a tool box, with logos of winning teams pasted next to the year of the game.
Iowa’s managers lead the series 11-6, but Wisconsin managers have claimed the prize the past two years.
3. Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland has not worked out this week for Wisconsin, but is expected to test his injured right hamstring today.
The Wisconsin State Journal reported that Borland could still play Saturday against Iowa if he responds well today.
Asked if one workout would be enough for Borland to prepare, defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said, “I would usually say ‘No,’ but I think with him, yes just because of how much he’s into it and the notes he takes and the attention to detail that goes into him.’’
Aranda said the similarities between the Iowa and Wisconsin offenses also makes a return more plausible.
“A lot of it is stuff we’ve done versus our offense throughout fall camp and spring,’’ Aranda said. “So in a way, he’s gotten those reps. The new things we’re doing, he’s up to the task mentally. We’ll see what comes of it (today), if it’s even doable.’’
The Badgers’ senior defensive leader suffered the injury in the first quarter of an Oct. 19 game at Illinois.
4. The play of Iowa defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat to get to Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter in overtime did not go unnoticed by coach Kirk Ferentz.
After falling the turf in a failed attempt to get to Colter, Trinca-Pasat picked himself up and chased down the Wildcats’ senior for the final sack of the Hawkeyes’ 17-10 win.
“That’s him,’’ Ferentz said. “I’m not saying he’s Matt Kroul, but he’s kind of like Matt Kroul. You can’t make those guys quit. It’s hard to get them off the field. Matt was a little flashier, but Louis is a guy who works hard. He’s perfect for us.’’
5. This may be Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen’s introduction to the Heartland Trophy, but the Badgers’ new coach is aware of the importance of trophy games.
His Utah State teams played for the Old Wagon Wheel against BYU and when he coached at Utah, the Beehive Boot was at stake for the season series between the state’s three Division I programs.
“Those mean a lot to kids and they are a big part of college football,’’ Andersen said. “It’s something that adds a little bit more of an edge to the game for the players, the fans and the coaches.’’
6. Hawkeye running back Mark Weisman is 37 yards away from moving into the top 20 on Iowa’s career rushing list.
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Weisman takes the field Saturday with 1,547 career yards and in 22ndd place on the list. He is 14 yards behind Rick Bayless in 21st and 37 yards behind Tim Sullivan, who rushed for 1,584 yards from 1967-70.
7. The play of Iowa linebackers Anthony Hitchens, Christian Kirksey and James Morris has impressed Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen.
“They’re sudden tacklers, meaning when they have the opportunity to be involved in plays, they’re there,’’ Andersen said. “Rarely do you see them get out-athleted, you rarely see them miss a tackle when they’re in position to have a great opportunity to make one.
“Very solid as far as their zone drops go. They’re stout, tough linebackers who carry themselves with the presence of liking football. They seem to like physical football and they play smart, make good decisions.’’
8. Wisconsin running back James White has additional motivation for Saturday’s game.
The senior suffered knee sprain early in the second quarter of the Badgers’ 31-30 win at Kinnick Stadium in 2010, and that opened the door for sophomore Montee Ball to step to the forefront of Wisconsin’s rushing attack.
White, who was recruited by Iowa as well, moved into a starting role this season and he looks forward to his return trip to Iowa City.
“Last time, I didn’t get a chance to finish the game,’’ White told the Wisconsin State Journal. “Iowa’s a team that’s very similar to us – a physical-type team. That’s what you want as a running back. You want to play in those big games and it’s going to be a big game on Saturday.’’
9. Hawkeye cornerback Desmond King leads Big Ten freshmen in tackles in conference play.
King averages 7.2 stops per game against Big Ten opponents and currently ranks fifth among Iowa players with 43 tackles.
10. Saturday’s game will be the seventh game in the country this season to pair two teams which currently rank in the top 15 nationally in total defense.
Of those seven, four have involved either the Hawkeyes or Badgers.