Down 10-6 to Purdue after a sluggish half of football coming out of the bye week, the Badgers (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten) turned three Boilermakers turnovers into 17 points, including a 36-yard Antonio Fenelus interception return for a touchdown, and put it together offensively, racking up 177 yards for a 34-13 victory and a fourth-straight win.
"First half didn't go the way we wanted it and we made some adjustments and just executed our stuff better," said senior quarterback Scott Tolzien. "That's stuff is going to happen sometimes. You are going to be stalemated. It's really how you respond to that and I thought we did a good job of that."
Indiana, however, hasn't done much of anything since Big Ten play began. The Hoosiers (4-5, 0-5 Big Ten) are headed for a third straight losing season under Head Coach Bill Lynch and are coming off their most gut wrenching defeat of the season at home against Iowa.
Leading 13-12, the Hoosiers' surrendered a 52-yard touchdown pass with 2 minutes 50 seconds left, just some of the 445 yards allowed by the ninth-ranked defense in the conference. It got worse when junior wide receiver Damarlo Belcher dropped a fourth-down pass in the end zone with 28 seconds left.
"We have been a play away quite a bit," Lynch said. "We've been a series away quite a bit. You keep knocking on the door and that's the approach we're taking, and we certainly will do again this week."
It was nearly identical last season, as Indiana lost by three points at Michigan, by one at Northwestern and by three at home to Wisconsin. That game in Bloomington was the turning point for a Wisconsin secondary, and Niles Brinkley, after then-junior Ben Chappell went 25 of 35 for 323 yards with three touchdown passes, most coming against Brinkley.
Since then, the Badgers have allowed one 300-yard passer in the last 13 games and none in the past 11.
"We just go out and try to play every week," Fenelus said. "We know we believe in each other and we know we can do it."
Despite the record, the Hoosiers' offense has been giving Chappell an opportunity to keep them in football games. Being sacked only eight times, the second-fewest in the league, Chappell is the league's top passer, averaging 296.3 yards with an 18-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
It's not a surprise either that the Hoosiers have three of the top four pass-catchers in the Big Ten in Damarlo Belcher (67 catches, 706 yards, two TDs), Tandon Doss (47, 550, two TDs) and Terrance Turner (45, 459, two TDs).
The Hoosiers have the top passing offense in the conference (302.8 yards per game) but have been hindered by the worst rushing offense (97.1 yards per game).
"We're going to throw it around for sure but in order to be successful in this league, you've got to be balanced," Chappell said. "If you are unbalanced, teams will catch up on that and usually stop one phase of the offense. They can key in on that and scheme that. You've got to be able to do multiple things."
Imagine the damage Chappell would be able to do in Wisconsin's offense. The Badgers have used the country's 16th-best rushing offense in the country (216 yards per game) to grind down opponents. Of the 50 scoring drives the Badgers have had this season, 14 drives have gone at least 10 plays, including a 19-play, 89-yard drive against Ohio State.
With the Hoosiers predicated on bringing multiple looks in normal down and distances and on third down, the Badgers will have no problem grinding the clock to wear down a bewildered defense and keep a talented Chappell on the sideline.
"That's got to be frustrating if a team is just grinding it out and just chipping way on you like that," Tolzien said of the drive. "That success is in large part to our offensive line. If they keep guys locked up, we can do some good things."
Indiana (4-5, 0-5 Big Ten) vs. No.6/5/7 (AP, Coaches, BCS) Wisconsin (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten)
Date/Time - Saturday, November 13 at 11 a.m. CT
Stadium –Camp Randall Stadium (80,321/FieldTurf)
Television - Big Ten Network (Bob Wischusen, Brian Griese, Quint Kessenich)
Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas) and Satellite Sirus (ch. 90) and XM (ch. 197)
Series – Wisconsin leads 36-18-2 (UW leads 20-8-1 in Madison)
Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 31-28, on Nov. 7, 2009 in Bloomington
Wisconsin has won the last five meetings with Indiana and 11 of the last 13 dating back to 1993.
This will be the teams' first meeting in Madison since 2007. The last two years have been played in Bloomington. The Badgers have won five of the last six games at Camp Randall.
Wisconsin has scored at least 29 points in each of the last nine games against Indiana, averaging 41.7 points against the Hoosiers since 1999.
Wisconsin has never been ranked higher than No.10 when playing the Hoosiers, which was on Nov.3 1951.
The Hoosiers last win in the series came in 2002, the second of consecutive victories over the Badgers. IU knocked off No. 23 Wisconsin, 32-29, at Memorial Stadium (Oct. 12), following a 63-32 triumph in Madison the previous season (Oct. 6).
Auburn and Wisconsin are the only two teams in the country that have defeated two teams currently ranked in the top 15 of the BCS standings.
UW is 8-1 for the first time since 2006, head coach Bret Bielema's first season. The Badgers finished that season with a school-record 12 wins and ranked fifth in the country. It is just the sixth time since 1905 that UW had won at least eight of its first nine games.
Wisconsin leads the country in fewest penalties per game, averaging just 3.22 penalties. The Badgers' 31.4 penalty yards per game are fourth-fewest in the country.
Not counting two end-of-game possessions when UW knelt on the ball to kill the clock, the Badgers have posted touchdowns on 30 of their last 31 trips inside the red zone. Their TD percentage of 81.4 inside the red zone is the best in the country.
Fifth-year senior Terrance Turner and juniors Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher combined for 2,175 yards, 184 receptions and 11 touchdowns in 2009. Their combined yardage was the sixth most for a returning trio nationally, while their 184 receptions were fifth and their 11 touchdowns shared 18th.
After suffering a season-ending injury after the third game of 2009, junior Darius Johnson was champing at the bit to return in 2010. He earned the starting spot at stand-up defensive end heading into this year and he has been a force in his eight games, all starts.
Johnson leads all of IU's defensive linemen and is fifth on the team with 43 tackles (21 solos) to go along with three sacks (tied for team lead), 4.5 tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries, one forced fumble, one pass breakup and one pass defended.
Chappell hit eight different receivers in the loss to Iowa, with five targets catching more than one ball. Doss, Terrance Turner and Damarlo Belcher all had five or more catches in the game.
Just look at the stats and recent history between these two schools and one understands why Wisconsin is a 21.5-point favorite. Indiana four wins have come over Towson, Western Kentucky, Akron and Arkansas State, a game in which Indiana trailed at halftime.
In the past four meetings against Indiana, Wisconsin has averaged 305.8 rushing yards per game and six players have gained at least 100 yards on the ground, including a staggering five in the past two games. With or without John Clay, the Badgers are going to pound the ball against one of the worst run defenses in the Big Ten.
One other thing stands out to me. The last four games at Camp Randall have been decided by an average of 34.3 points and seven of the last nine meetings between the teams have been decided by at least 17 points. It's a tricky point spread but after Indiana got the life sucked out of its program last week, dropping a deserved victory over the Hawkeyes, I don't think the Hoosiers will have much life left.
Wisconsin 44, Indiana 17
Straight up: 6-3
Against the Spread: 7-2