Five Days and Counting...

HoosierNation.com begins its day-by-day preview of the Hoosiers' Big Ten opener against Wisconsin with five numbers to note about the contest against the Badgers...

12 – net rushing yards for Wisconsin a week ago against Michigan. While that might appear to be a welcome relief for an IU defense that has yielded a combined 501 yards in losses to Southern Illinois and Connecticut, the Badgers were much better on the ground before running into the Wolverines. While going 3-0 in the non-conference slate, Wisconsin averaged 198 yards/game on the ground. Leading the way will be 5-11, 242-pound redshirt freshman P.J. Hill, who is averaging 117.5 yards/game and 5.2 yards/carry this season. He has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in three out of four games this season.

2 – Palcics who will be coaching in this game. IU fans are familiar with Joe Palcic, the Hoosiers' co-defensive coordinator who also coaches the team's cornerbacks. But Joe's father, Bob, will be on the opposite sidelines coaching the Badgers' offensive linemen. Bob Palcic spent the last 12 years coaching in the NFL before joining UW Coach Brett Bielema in Madison this fall. Before his stint in the NFL, Bob spent 21 years coaching in the college ranks, primarily with offensive linemen. Among his stops have been USC, UCLA and Ohio State.

157 – yards receiving for James Hardy in last year's 41-24 loss to the Badgers in Madison. Generally locked up in man coverage, Hardy had his way with the Badger secondary, including the Badgers' top returning coverman, Allen Langford. Hardy had seven catches, highlighted by an 83-yard touchdown in the first quarter on a blown UW coverage. It was Hardy's second-biggest day of the 2005 season, eclipsed only by his 12-catch, 203-yard, one-touchdown effort at Iowa. Hardy has been serving a two-week suspension from the team for "personal reasons," but was scheduled to rejoin the team Sunday. His return could be big for an IU offense that went scoreless in Saturday's 14-7 loss to Connecticut.

17 – Wisconsin's national ranking in total defense. Bielema's squad is surrendering only 246 yards/game, a total that ranks second in the Big Ten behind only Michigan (217.0). Indiana, meanwhile, ranks 61st nationally with its 322.3 yards surrendered/game. The Badgers have been particularly good against the pass ranking 15th nationally by yielding only 140.3 yards/game. Paced by Langford's three interceptions the Badgers have six interceptions and have allowed only two touchdown passes. Langford had two of the Badgers' three interceptions against Michigan quarterback Chad Henne last weekend.

52.6 – Yards/kickoff return for IU's Marcus Thigpen, an average that leads the country. Thigpen had his second kickoff return for a touchdown on the season Saturday against Connecticut, racing 87 yards for the Hoosiers' only score. Thigpen leads the nation in the category by a wide margin, with Mississippi State's Derek Pegues ranking second with 36.0 yards/return. Indiana would love to get another big return from Thigpen Saturday, but opportunities won't come easy. Wisconsin kicker Taylor Mehlhaff is one of the league's best, recording touchbacks on 11 of his 20 kickoffs so far this season.

What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Key Matchups
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Things IU Must Do to Win
On Friday – One Bold Prediction

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