WISCONSIN: Two Days and Counting

Indiana (5-3/2-3) will attempt to do something that no other team has done in nearly two years - beat Wisconsin (6-2/2-2) at Camp Randall Stadium. With the game now just two days away, HoosierNation.com looks at two of the Hoosiers' biggest concerns...

Indiana knows what's coming…but can the Hoosiers stop it? – Sure, Wisconsin will sprinkle in some play-action passes and take some shots down the field with quarterback Tyler Donovan. But dating back to the heyday of the Barry Alvarez era, this is a team that's bread-and-butter is running the ball between the tackles, and IU knows that's what it will be facing Saturday.

"I would assume that they would probably try to run the ball on us and they had success in the past doing that on us," said IU Coach Bill Lynch.

Coach Bret Bielema's team will try to do that with tailback P.J. Hill, a 5'11", 227-pound sophomore who is averaging 126.1 yards/game. Hill rushed for 129 yards and three touchdowns in last year's 52-17 Wisconsin win in Bloomington, and he'll likely get 25-30 carries again this weekend.

Indiana knows that's the case, but can they do anything to stop it? Two weeks ago the Hoosiers were well aware of the fact that Michigan State would do it's best to utilize the skills of tailbacks Javon Ringer and Jehuu Caulcrick to wear down IU, and worked to the tune of 376 rushing yards in a 52-27 Spartan victory.

Like Michigan State, Wisconsin has a huge offensive line. All five range in height from 6'6" to 6'8", and three of the five weigh at least 325 pounds. Wisconsin also has 6'1", 259-pound fullback Chris Pressley to lead the way through the holes, so IU will have its hands full.

"(Hill) is still a big, physical back," Lynch said. "He's different than (Javon) Ringer from Michigan State, who would go in and out of the holes a little bit. Hill will take you on and they have a fullback that is about 270 pounds and a big offensive line. Having said that, I am sure they are going to try to make this as physical as they can."

Can Indiana get off to a good start? – This isn't so much of a concern as a necessity for the Hoosiers. After back-to-back losses, Indiana needs to put some points on the board early and let it be known that this year's game won't be a repeat of last year's 52-17 debacle.

The good news is Wisconsin hasn't been a very good first quarter team this season. Other than last week's 14-0 lead against a struggling Northern Illinois squad, the Badgers have either been tied or trailed after the first quarter in each of its other six contests. In its four Big Ten games, Wisconsin has been outscored 31-14 in the first quarter. Getting off to a quick start is imperative for the Hoosiers so that they can a) build some confidence in one of the league's most hostile environments, and b) keep from having to abandon the run and go exclusively with the pass.

Camp Randall Stadium isn't the biggest stadium in the Big Ten, but it might very well feature the loudest fan base. While Indiana has faced big crowds at both Iowa and Michigan State, the Badger faithful figure to make this contest the most hostile environment the Hoosiers have faced.

The running game is also going to be critical to the Hoosiers' success. While Lynch's team has made a name for itself with the big-play capabilities of the passing game, those opportunities are often created when teams have to respect Indiana's ability to run the ball. While it's not imperative that IU rush for 150-200 yards against Wisconsin, it is important that IU can still run it 30 times or more and keep the Badger defense honest.

What's coming up:

On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Players to Know
On Wednesday – Three Key Matchups
On Thursday – Two Big Concerns
On Friday – One Bold Prediction

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