WISCONSIN: Three Days and Counting

Bloomington - Indiana gets another crack at a top-25 team when it hosts No. 24 Wisconsin on Saturday at noon. Hoosier Nation continues its day-by-day preview with a look at three of the game's most important match-ups...

Wisconsin TEs Garrett Graham and Lance Kendricks vs. IU Defense - While the Hoosiers will run the Pistol, the Wildcat, the Spread and perhaps another unconventional formation or two offensively, the Badgers are pretty straight forward with what they do offensively. More often than not Coach Bret Bielema's team will line up with its "12" personnel grouping, which features one tailback, two tight ends and two wide receivers. Those two tight ends – Graham and Kendricks – pose problems for Indiana in both the running and passing game. When it comes to the ground attack, the 6'3", 250-pound Graham and the 6'4", 236-pound Kendricks are both very capable run blockers, give the Badgers a "hat on a hat" when Indiana has seven defenders in the box. They'll make it much more difficult for players like Tyler Replogle and Matt Mayberry to flow to the ball and make the stop. In the passing game, both Graham and Kendricks are capable pass catchers that will be a challenge for Will Patterson, Replogle or Austin Thomas to match up against. Graham leads all Big Ten tight ends with 30 receptions for 342 yards and four touchdowns, while Kendricks has 17 catches for 174 yards and two scores, and he also ran the ball four times for 91 yards against Purdue last weekend on end arounds. Indiana hasn't dealt with too many two-tight end formations this season, and it will have to find a way to cope with two really good ones in Graham and Kendricks.

IU WR/QB Mitchell Evans vs. UW Defense - everyone would love the idea of the Hoosiers handing the ball off to Darius Willis 30 times on Saturday and watching the Hoosiers' redshirt freshman tailback run for 150-yards plus against the Badgers. Unfortunately, that's wishful thinking against a Wisconsin defense that has held each of its five Big Ten opponents to less than 100 yards rushing. Indiana will still look to get Willis 15-20 carries Saturday, and it will be committed to trying to find a way to have some success running the football. But if that's going to happen, it's a good bet that Evans and the Wildcat formation needs to have some success Saturday afternoon. Wofford is actually the last team that had some success running the ball against the Badgers, utilizing their triple-option attack to run for 214 yards in a 44-14 Wisconsin win back on Sept. 19. Indiana doesn't figure to abandon the Pistol as its primary formation, but it's conceivable that Evans could approach his season-high of nine carries this weekend. Also doesn't be surprised to see Tandon Doss get some option pitches from Evans out of the formation as well – Doss has been held under 50 combined yards rushing and receiving the last two weeks, and he needs to get more touches and make a bigger impact if Indiana is going to be successful.

Indiana Special Teams vs. UW Special Teams – Both Indiana and Wisconsin have had some big plays go for them against them on special teams. Indiana has returned a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns, but it's also had a pair of punts blocked this season – one was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown, and the other was recovered by Indiana in its own end zone for a safety. Wisconsin, meanwhile, has blocked a pair of punts and recovered them for touchdowns, but Bielema's team has also given up one kickoff return for a touchdown and had a punt blocked. If Indiana is going to have a chance of springing the upset against the 24th-ranked Badgers, it must – at worst – come away even on special teams plays. A big return or another blocked punt would be crippling to Indiana's chances. A big return would be helpful as well, but if that's going to happen it's going to be up to Tandon Doss to make it happen. Ray is averaging 37.4 yards/kickoff return and 9.8 yards/punt return, but he'll miss this weekend's game following knee surgery. That will leave Doss as the Hoosiers' primary return threat.

Coming Up
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Monday – Four Names to Know
On Wednesday – Three Key Match-Ups
On Thursday – Two Big Concerns
On Friday – One Bold Prediction

Peegs.com Top Stories