Opponent: Wisconsin Badgers (6-3,3-2)
Series History: Wisconsin leads the series 38-18-2 including 16-9-1 in Bloomington.
Last Meeting: The second consecutive trip to Madison went a little bit better. But not much. Following up an 83-20 loss two years ago. IU held Wisconsin to less than 60 points, but outside of a Stephen Houston 67 yard touchdown run, the offense couldn’t accomplish anything and the Hoosiers fell 59-7.
What to take away from last week: Much like the previous week, it was an imperfect win. The Hoosiers didn’t play a perfect game, but fortunately it didn’t have to. What’s especially gratifying is to see the confidence that comes from winning a game like that. Earlier in the season, you could see the lack of confidence come back to bite the Hoosiers as they often times panicked instead of trusting themselves to continue playing well.
So what of this week’s opponent: The Hoosiers are taking on a team that has beaten them by a combined 115 points in the last two years. But this isn’t the same Wisconsin team that IU
faced the last two years. In 2010, Wisconsin was #6 in the country when IU paid a visit and on its way to a Rose Bowl. In 2011, Wisconsin was undefeated and ranked #4 having just come off a huge win over B1G newcomer Nebraska. This year, Montee Bell has had trouble getting much traction as the offensive line has been in a constant state of flux. This year, the passing game has struggled and Wisconsin is now on its 2nd string quarterback. Coach Bret Bielema hasn’t publicly named a starting quarterback, but the rumors are that 5th year senior Curt Phillips will take the reins instead of Junor Danny O’Brien. The Badgers were disappointed to find out that O’Brien is not in fact the guy they named the trophy after, and he lost his starting job when Wisconsin lost to Oregon State and was barely able to get past Utah State in the third game of the year.
Scouting Future Opponents:
Two potential IU future opponents take each other on as Penn State visits Nebraska.
Purdue tries to get over itself while visiting the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Statistic that only I care about: 3rd down conversion percentage. The Wisconsin defense has been it’s characteristic stout self, only allowing 30% of third down conversions, but the offense ranks 108th in the nation in converting on 3rd down. Given IU’s propensity to throw team’s off schedule with tackles for loss, the ability to finish the series off against a 3rd and long will be key to winning the game.
Prediction: Controlling our Rose Bowl destiny on November 10th will not be the high water mark for the program much longer. There are brighter days ahead for this Indiana team. Just not yet. While I think IU will be able to create a few matchup problems for Wisconsin, and the Badgers clearly do not have the offense of the last two years to blow out the Hoosiers, I can’t pick Indiana to win just yet. IU loses 31-20.