Indiana will need every point it can get to beat Wisconsin
By Andy Proffet Post-Tribune correspondent November 15, 2013 8:40PM
Updated: December 17, 2013 6:18AM
BLOOMINGTON — Given Wisconsin’s success against Indiana, it would be no surprise for the Badgers to take the Hoosiers lightly today.
There’s last year’s game in Bloomington, when the Badgers tallied a school-record 564 rushing yards. There’s 2010, when Wisconsin scored 83 points on the Hoosiers in Bill Lynch’s last season as coach.
But first-year Badgers coach Gary Andersen knows IU’s offense could make this game interesting.
“Football is year by year, and Indiana’s done some really nice things this year,” Andersen said. “They’ve had some tough losses and are in games all the way through.
“They score at least 28 points each week. That doesn’t make you stand up and grab your attention as a defender, then nothing will.”
The Hoosiers (4-5, 2-3 Big Ten) will likely need every point they can get against the 17th-ranked Badgers (7-2, 4-1).
Wisconsin has scored 83, 59 and 62 points in each of the teams’ last three meetings. And even disregarding past year’s performances, the Badgers have scored at least 24 points in each game this season.
The Hoosiers have allowed at least 35 points in all but two games this season, and Wisconsin’s strength plays right into Indiana’s weakness — the run game.
Wisconsin is the only FBS team with two players each averaging over 100 yards rushing a game, in Melvin Gordon (128.9) and James White (105.7). The Hoosiers are allowing 217.4 yards per game.
But Wisconsin’s strong running attack sets up a play-action passing game that could give IU fits as well, especially after Illinois’ Steve Hull burned the Hoosiers for nine receptions, 224 yards and two touchdowns last week.
“If you get aggressive and start loading the box, you get guys one-on-one,” Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said. “(Jared) Abbrederis is just about as good as anybody at getting open, and he’s worked some of the best players in this conference one-on-one.”
Wilson believes his team is making strides, and has the chance to make a statement today.
“The best way to make it happen is to be as aggressive and decisive as you can,” he said. “You’re not going to go up playing Wisconsin on your heels, hoping they have a bad game, hoping to get a call, hoping to get a turnover.
“You’re not going to go up and down the field on this team’s defense. They played against some very good offense, and they shoved them in a box.”
Key players: Indiana’s front seven. Bottom line: if Wisconsin runs against the Hoosiers the way they have in years past, this will be another blowout loss for IU. The Hoosiers’ defense has to make some stops, and it starts with stopping big runs by Wisconsin.
Indiana will win if: The Hoosiers import Michigan State’s defense for this game. Seriously, though, given Wisconsin’s success running the ball, IU will have to score on every possession to hang with the Badgers.
Wisconsin will win if: The Badgers hand the ball to Melvin Gordon and James White. A lot.
Prediction: Wisconsin 56, Indiana 28
Correspondent Andy Proffet