WIN, LOSE OR DRAW: Wisconsin

Part 10 of a 12-part series outlining Indiana football’s opponents this season.

Indiana Wisconsin Football

Wisconsin running back John Clay eludes Indiana’s Joe Kleinsmith during the team’s 2008 contest. Rick Janzaruk | Herald-Times

OPPONENT: Wisconsin

DATE: Nov. 7

TIME: TBA

TV: TBA

TICKETS: Click here.

FOLLOW THE TEAM: Wisconsin’s official site.

Coverage from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

HISTORY VS. INDIANA: Indiana is 18-35-2 alltime against Wisconsin, including a 55-20 loss at home last season. Indiana last beat Wisconsin in 2002, and has lost four games by a combined total of 181-64 since then.

WHO ARE THEY: The Badgers are an interesting team. Wisconsin’s record has slipped in each of Brett Bielema’s three seasons as head coach (12 wins to 9 to 7), but Badgers fans seem to be more upset with the character of the team. Wisconsin seems to understand that winning 10 games a year is a luxury — the state produces almost no BCS-level prospects, and recruiting to Madison is a difficult chore — but, under Bielema, more and more players have gotten into trouble on and off the field. Bielema has done the smart thing and scheduled himself some wins — Northern Illinois, Fresno State and Wofford to open the season. But he also has an uncertain situation at quarterback and running back, and a defense that lost half of the starters from a year ago.

OFFENSIVE STAR: It’s Wisconsin, so the star will likely be playing running back. Sophomore John Clay looked like he was ready to be the next great back at Wisconsin, but junior Zach Brown (previously a third-down back) has had a great fall camp and comes into the Northern Illinois game as the starter. Clay had 884 yards as a redshirt freshman — more importantly, that was 5.7 yards per carry. Brown had 305 yards in 2008. Montee Ball and Erik Smith will also see time in the backfield, underscoring the fact that Wisconsin will very much be the team the Big Ten has come to know and respect — the Badgers are going to run the ball, and dare you to stop them. Whoever starts is not all that important, because all the backs will see time.

DEFENSIVE STAR: Last year’s defense allowed 52 plays of 20 or more yards and returns only two members of last year’s front seven. Wisconsin plans to rotate eight defensive linemen in and out during games this season, but O’Brien Schofield should be the consistent force on the line. He had 40 tackles as a junior, 8.5 for a loss. His five sacks also led Wisconsin’s defensive linemen. The 6-foot-3, 248-pound end has to lead an older line, but one that is relatively inexperienced. We’ll also answer the lingering question — was Schofield good in 2008, or was he good because of the presence of his older teammates?

WHY INDIANA WILL WIN: The key to this entire game is Bob Knight. Weird, right? But the Nov. 7 game is the day after the Indiana Hall of Fame ceremony, and each member of the class will be introduced during the game. If Knight is among them, expect a packed crowd that will be in very good spirits and the emotion of the day could carry Indiana to an upset victory. If Knight no-shows, there may be very little reason for fans to come to this game — Wisconsin has traditionally swatted Indiana around at Memorial Stadium. On the field, making big plays has to be the key. Look for plenty of passes downfield to burners like Damarlo Belcher and Tandon Doss.

WHY WISCONSIN WILL WIN: Because even a slightly down Wisconsin should always beat Indiana. History tells us this — 181-64 during the last four contests and a 2-10 mark for Indiana during the last 12 games. Stopping the run has been a difficult proposition for Indiana and the uncertain nature of the defensive tackle position would indicate that is going to remain the same in 2009. If that’s the case, Zach Brown and John Clay are both going to go over 100 yards rushing and it’s going to be a very, very long day for the Hoosiers.

NOW YOU: Call it — win, lose or draw? Well, ok, just win or lose. State your reason, as well.

4 comments

  1. Hoosiers lose to the Badgers because we’ve never been able to stop their running attack. Their O’ line has always been too massive. Predicted record after 10 games: 5-5.

  2. I always have to remind everyone of Randle El’s senior year when we went to Wisky and beat them down. I think that was Cam’s last year but would have to check. Since Mallory left, it all blurs together!

Comments are closed.