GAMEDAY - Indiana vs. Wisconsin

HoosierNation.com previews Saturday's game between Indiana (3-0/0-0) and No. 17 Wisconsin (4-0/1-0), which kicks off at 11 a.m. at Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium...

FACTS AND FIGURES

Matchup:

Indiana  (3-0) vs. Wisconsin (4-0)

Place:

Camp Randall Stadium (80,321)

Television:

ESPN 2 (Pam Ward, David Norrie, Jimmy Dykes)

Radio:

IU Radio Network (Don Fischer, Pete Compise, Joe Smith)

Attendance:

Sold Out

Series:

Wisconsin 31-18-2

Last Meeting:

2002, Indiana 32-29

IU  2005 Off:

Rush (176.0/gm); Pass (239.3); Total Off. (415.3)

IU  2005 Def:

Rush (217.3/gm); Pass (135.7); Total Off. (353.0)

UW 2005 Off:

Rush (239.2); Pass (157.5); Total Off. (396.8)

UW 2005 Def:

Rush (65.5); Pass (263.2); Total Off. (328.8)


Week Four: Indiana vs. Wisconsin
Indiana opens Big Ten play when it travels to Madison, Wis., to face Wisconsin at 11 a.m. at Camp Randall Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPN2.

The two teams haven't played since 2002, a game that saw the Hoosiers overcome a 19-point second-half deficit to prevail, 32-29, in Bloomington. Hoosier quarterback Gibran Hamdan completed 24-of-36 passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns in the game, including an 11-of-14, 155-yard, two-touchdown fourth quarter.

Indiana also won in its last trip to Madison, pounding the Badgers 63-32 in 2001. In that contest, Indiana raced to a 32-0 lead 12 minutes into the game to put the Badgers away early. Levron Williams ran for 280 yards and five touchdowns in the game, including TD scampers of 51 and 56 yards.

Despite IU's recent run of success, Camp Randall Stadium has been unkind to most visitors. Wisconsin is 41-6-1 in its last 48 games at home and has won nine straight games in its newly-renovated stadium.

KEY MATCHUPS
IU DEs Ben Ishola and Kenny Kendal vs. UW OT Joe Thomas:
Wisconsin not only doesn't mind that teams know it is going to run the ball – it doesn't mind that teams often know it is going to run behind the left side of the line. That's because the Badgers have one of the best left tackles around, 6-8, 303-pound Joe Thomas. Not only is he huge, but he also has very good feet for a lineman his size and can block in space. Wisconsin likes to get tailback Brian Calhoun around the edge, which means Ishola and Kendal will have their work cut out for them. Ishola might prove to be a bigger challenge for Thomas because of his speed, but the Badger lineman has a decided size advantage over both.

IU WR Marcus Thigpen vs. UW CB Levonne Rowan:
The Badgers' No. 3 cornerback will likely see plenty of action on Saturday when Indiana goes three and four-wide, and he'll likely draw the assignment of slowing down Thigpen. The 5-10 Thigpen has only six catches in IU's first three games, but he's averaging a team-high 21.2 yards/reception, including a 74-yard touchdown against Central Michigan. Rowan was a starter in the Badgers' season opener against Bowling Green, but a rough afternoon against BG quarterback Omar Jacobs landed Rowan on the sideline, and pushed redshirt freshman Allen Langford onto the field. Rowan has 4.3 speed in the 40, while Thigpen is undoubtedly the Hoosiers' speediest receiver as well. This figures to be a very important matchup Saturday.

IU MLB John Pannozzo vs. UK FB Matt Bernstein:
A couple of big-hitting New Yorkers will be going toe-to-toe Saturday. The 6-2, 270-pound Bernstein is virtually a sixth offensive lineman coming out of the backfield, and one of the best blocking fullbacks in the country. He'll be leading the way for tailback Brian Calhoun. Pannozzo, meanwhile, is a converted fullback who leads the Hoosiers in tackles (21) and forced fumbles (2) while also ranking second in tackles for loss (3). Pannozzo needs to hold his own in this matchup to prevent Calhoun from getting into the IU secondary.
IU DBs Tracy Porter and Leslie Majors and vs. UW WRs Jonathan Orr and Brandon Williams:
The IU coaching staff knows that it needs to slow down the Badger running game, and the ability to put eight men in the box would go a long way toward accomplishing that goal. To be able to do that, though, Porter and Majors will need to be able to cover Williams and Orr in man coverage. While Wisconsin only throws for 158 yards/game through the air, that doesn't mean Orr and Williams aren't talented. To the contrary – Williams will likely finish his UW career as the school's all-time leader in receptions, while the 6-3 Orr ranks in the top 15 in the program's history in career receiving yards (1,219) and in the top 10 in career touchdowns (12). While Badger quarterback John Stocco will generally be turning and handing the ball to Calhoun or Booker Stanley, he'll undoubtedly take a few looks downfield if IU opts for man coverage. Porter and Majors need to be up to the challenge.

COACH SPEAK
"They are a very good defensive football team. You can see they play really hard. (Defensive Coordinator Brett) Bielema has that side of the ball playing really hard and you can see why he's been named the successor (to Alvarez as head coach). He's got that group playing hard, they're flying around, playing with one heartbeat and doing a great job." – IU Passing Game Coordinator Matt Canada.

DID YOU KNOW
BADGERS SUFFERING DROUGHT AGAINST…THE HOOSIERS?:

No player on the Wisconsin roster has ever beaten Indiana. That's due in large part to the fact the two teams haven't met for the past two years, but Indiana won the previous two meetings – 32-29 in 2002 and 63-32 in 2001. That two-game Wisconsin losing streak is its second-longest current skid against a Big Ten foe. The Badgers have lost three in a row to Iowa, having last beaten the Hawkeyes in 2001, 34-28.

GAME PLAN
When The Hoosiers Have The Ball: Spread them out. Wisconsin's defense is surrendering just 65.5 yards/game on the ground, so any success IU is going to have there is going to be predicated on establishing the pass first. Indiana's coaches likely thinks it has an edge with its wideouts against the Badger secondary, and they'll try to exploit that early. If IU has success there and Wisconsin is forced to play five or six defensive backs, then the Hoosiers find success running the ball. But establishing the pass will have to come first.

When The Badgers Have The Ball: Run left, Brian Calhoun, run left. The Badgers will do plenty of work behind tight end Owen Daniels and left tackle Joe Thomas on the left side. The 6-8, 303-pound Thomas is a very good athlete who moves well and can get downfield to spring Calhoun when necessary. This is what Wisconsin does, so don't expect them to deviate from the gameplan unless Indiana shows it can stop it. That's a big if.

HOOSIERNATION.COM PREDICTION Any coach will tell you that there's no such thing as good losses, but I beg to differ in this situation. Indiana is venturing into a raucous stadium with a first-year starting quarterback, playing against a team that's trying to send its departing coach out with a fourth Big Ten title. That's a tall order of Powers and the Hoosiers. So is trying to combat a Badger running attack that is arguably the best in the Big Ten. Indiana will be able to move the ball through the air and put points on the board, but four quarters of Calhoun will eventually take its toll.

Wisconsin 35, Indiana 23

Peegs.com Top Stories