IOWA CITY, Iowa - There was a stretch from 2002 to 2009 when the Iowa football team won six of eight games against Wisconsin.
Unfortunately, for Hawkeye fans, the series has changed considerably since then.
Wisconsin has won six of the last seven games against Iowa and will try to add to its dominance when the two border rivals meet again on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz held his weekly press conference on Tuesday and he praised the Badgers for being rock solid from top to bottom.
Ferentz acknowledged that Iowa and Wisconsin are similar in how they try to win games, and he thinks that can be traced to Barrry Alvarez's influence.
Alvarez, a former Iowa assistant coach under Hayden Fry, built Wisconsin into a Big Ten power in the early 1990s and would go on to win three Rose Bowl games as head coach.
Alvarez is now Wisconsin's athletic director, but he still has a heavy influence on the football program.
Alvarez and Ferentz were together on Iowa's staff from 1981-86 and they share some of the same philosophies on how football should be played. It starts with running the football on offense, stopping the run on defense and being sound and opportunistic on special teams.
Current Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst, who is a former Badger assistant under Alvarez, also relies heavily on that same approach.
"I think probably all of us that worked together in the '80s, whether it's Dan McCarney, Bill Snyder, guys that also had good runs in being successful in their programs," Ferentz said. "I think you see some commonality there for sure. I always laugh, Coach Fry with his white pants and sunglasses and exotics. Everybody is looking on the periphery and it was all about playing good defense and not beating yourself. That really was the secret, and especially in our big games, that's what we did."
Ferentz remembers Alvarez being confident about rebuilding the Wisconsin program when he was hired, and about his vision for how to succeed.
"Barry and I worked together for seven years, and just knowing what I know about Barry and what I know about playing the teams that he was coaching," Ferentz said. "I think he had a really clear vision of what it takes to be successful, and it really has meshed well there. He felt like Wisconsin was a sleeping giant when he went there, winter of '89-' 90, and I think his words were prophetic that way.
"He and his staff did a great job. Bill Callahan was on that staff. He had some outstanding coaches on that staff, Brad Childress, so those guys really got it up and running, and I think the formula is one that's probably time-tested and probably a little bit of Barry's DNA as a Nebraska player and then coaching under Coach Fry, playing defense around the football well and being good on the kicking game, those three things, and that's what you see, and you've seen it pretty consistently now since Barry went there in 1990."
Some Iowa fans still are upset nearly 30 years later that Alvarez raided Fry's staff to hire Dan McCarney and Bernie Wyatt as assistant coaches. McCarney left Iowa to become the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin, while Wyatt was hired mostly for his ability to recruit.
Together, they helped to turn the Badgers into what is now usually a better version of Iowa.
Injury report: There was some good news, but also some bad news on the injury front.
First the good news: Ferentz said Tuesday that sophomore right guard Kyler Schott has returned to practice and could start againt the Badgers on Saturday. Schott has missed the last five games due to an undisclosed injury.
Ferentz was asked on Tuesday if Schott could start against Wisconsin.
"I mean, he was a starter before he left, so yeah," Ferentz said. "We'll find out. He has two days, and so far, so good. But at least if nothing else, it adds to the mix in there.
Now the bad news: Ferentz said senior linebacker Kristian Welch and senior tight end Nate Wieting, both of whom are Wisconsin natives, are doubtful for Saturday's game.
Welch has missed the last two games with what Ferentz described as a stinger, while Wieting missed the Northwestern game on Oct. 26 in Evanston, Ill., due to an undisclosed injury.
"It's like a concussion, but it's not a concussion, just for the record, because it's such a sensitive thing," Ferentz said of Welch's injury. "But injuries are funny. It's just stingers, concussions, could be three days or it could be three months. I've seen it go both ways on both those. Some injuries are a little bit more predictable, stingers aren't, and it's just a matter of regaining strength and being able to maintain it.
"He plays in a position where he's apt to get hit pretty frequently. If he was a placekicker we'd have a better chance, but right now I don't know that it's realistic he'll be able to play this week.
As for junior receiver Brandon Smith, he is making progress, but still is a ways off from playing, according to Ferentz.
"His rehab is going well, but I don't know what that means exactly," Ferentz said. "It's an ankle injury, and it's going to take some time. Just one of those shots."