Indiana was looking for a recipe for success in Madison, but more turnovers than points scored isn't one of them.
Coach Bill Lynch's team turned the ball over five times and managed just 258 yards of total offense while falling to Wisconsin, 33-3 at Camp Randall Stadium.
The IU defense fought valiantly for three quarters, but the Hoosier offense had four quarters they would just like to forget.
"We just had too many turnovers to come up here and win," said Indiana Coach Bill Lynch. "We got to give them credit. They played really well in the first quarter and we didn't get out of the gate the way we needed to so we were playing from behind. It's tough to do that against a team like that."
The Badgers came out strong early marching down the field with run after run before their drive stalled near the red zone. They quickly kicked a 41-yard field goal, forced a Hoosier three and out on defense, and then put together their most impressive scoring drive of the game.
Wisconsin's P.J. Hill punished the Hoosiers on the drive pushing Wisconsin all the way to the Hoosier goal line. On 3rd and goal at the Hoosier one-yard line, Hill was surprisingly stopped hard inches short of the touchdown, but the Badgers had the Hoosiers on their heels and quickly decided to try it again. On 4th and inches Hill easily pushed the pile into the endzone to give his team an early 10-0 lead.
They gave up another Badger scoring drive two possessions later after the Indiana offense once again gave the Badgers the short field to work with making it 17-0. The game seemed to be getting away quickly. The IU offense had barely been on the field and the Badgers were chewing up yards with regularity.
The Hoosiers got a break, though, when Hill left the game after his score with an ankle injury. The Badgers decided not to risk playing him for the rest of the game, giving the IU defense a respite after Hill had already rushed for 61 yards and a score and was looking dominant.
With Hill out of the game, the IU defense began to stiffen, making big plays, and held the Badgers off the scoreboard on their next six drives. Senior cornerback Tracy Porter picked off Wisconsin's Tyler Donovan in the endzone to snuff one scoring drive. IU's Jammie Kirlew stripped Donovan of the football to halt another. The Hoosiers had found a way to stop the Badger ground game, which wasn't nearly the same without Hill, and were giving their offense opportunities.
The IU offense squandered nearly every opportunity they received though and ultimately the IU defense was overrun late in the lopsided loss.
After Austin Starr kicked a 49-yard field goal right before halftime, Indiana would go scoreless on their last eight drives of the game. It was a comedy of errors for the Hoosier offense that left no one laughing. Kellen Lewis would fumble the ball away twice, after fumbling three times just a week ago in the Penn State loss, and be intercepted twice. His inability to secure the ball and inaccurate passing killed the Hoosiers offense time after time.
But it wasn't just Lewis who hurt the Hoosiers on Saturday. Indiana's other big weapon, junior receiver James Hardy, once again discovered that the Badgers seem to have his number. After only catching one pass for eight yards in last year's 52-17 loss to the Badgers, Hardy was held to just four receptions for 17 yards in this loss. His school-record of nine games with a touchdown pass was snapped.
Hardy's play, though, was even worse than his numbers might indicate as he lost a big fumble in Wisconsin territory and had a holding penalty that negated an 84-yard rushing touchdown by Marcus Thigpen. That score would have cut the Badger lead to just 17-10 in the third quarter and shifted the momentum IU's way. Instead, the Hoosier offense never found their momentum, just turnovers instead. They would finish the game with five turnovers and just three points via a long field goal.
"The field position wasn't good all day and we had some turnovers," said Lynch. "We know, particularly when you are playing a good football team, that it's going to come back and get you."
Adding injury to insult was the loss of several Hoosier starters during the game. Already without second-leading receiver Ray Fisher, the Hoosiers also lost starting center Ben Wyss, back-up center Matt Moses, forcing seldom-used Alex Perry into action. Neither player would return to the game nor did starting defensive tackle Joe Kremer, running back Bryan Payton, or offensive guard Pete Saxon, who also left the game injured.
"It was a struggle, but you got to give credit to those kids that came in and played," said Lynch. "You go on the road and play a team like this you have to be prepared for that."
Those injuries undoubtedly hurt the Hoosiers' efforts, but not nearly as much as an offense that just couldn't hold onto the ball. The Hoosiers now have eleven turnovers in their last three games, all losses. They'll have to get that corrected if they are to keep their bowl dreams alive.
"I know these kids are going to come back and keep battling," said Lynch. "We played two good teams in a row so it's not like we have been going out and getting beat up by teams that aren't very good football teams. This team was a pre-season top five pick…that's a pretty good football team we just lost to."
Miscues Plague Hoosiers Again
Peegs.com Top Stories
Freddie McSwain close to returnJunior college transfer Freddie McSwain speaks to his return to full go action and his transition to high major basketball at Indiana.
Peegs.comYesterday at 1:34 PM
Quality 'Priller Time' in Hysteria scrimmageJunior forward Tim Priller had back-to-back baskets in a stretch during Saturday's Hoosier Hysteria scrimmage to show he's improved his game. Before that he sat down with Peegs.com…
Peegs.comYesterday at 1:08 PM
Tackles adding up for Tegray ScalesIt has been a long time since Indiana has seen a player rack up the tackles like Tegray Scales has this season.
Peegs.comYesterday at 10:37 AM
2016 Indiana Football Scholarship ChartCheck out the Peegs.com 2016 Scholarship Chart for the Indiana Football team.
Peegs.comYesterday at 10:13 AM
Breakout season for Juwan Morgan?A healthy shoulder and a slimmer body added to a year of experience could mean a breakout season for Juwan Morgan.
Peegs.comYesterday at 6:14 AM