Keys to the Game

Badgermaniac shares his "Keys to the Game" for the Badger game against the Indiana Hoosiers.

1. The Box

Barry Alvarez used to speak of keeping former IU QB Antuaan Randle-El in a box or contained as if on a handball quart. Current Indiana QB Kellen Lewis is not the runner that Randle-El was, but he still can do a lot of damage outside the pocket (he is still IU's leading rusher), especially since he throws a much better ball. The Hoosiers are 96th in the nation in sacks allowed, so teams can and do get to Lewis, but they need to keep him contained while rushing the passer.

2. Here They Come

Indiana ranks second in the nation in sacks, just one sack behind the nation's best. The one thing they focus on defensively is unleashing the dogs and bringing pressure. Seeing as how the Badgers have been marginal in pass protection, Tyler Donovan is likely to feel some heat. Decision making under pressure could lead to some big plays, but if Donovan struggles, it could also lead to some turnovers.

3. James Hardy vs. Jack Ikegwuonu

Hardy is one of the elite receivers in the conference, excelling both at the big play (11 touchdowns) as well as being a fine possession receiver. Look for the Badgers to match up Ike on Hardy whenever possible, which should result in a fine battle to watch.

4. Defensive Efficiency

Indiana's offense has not been as productive statistically as you might believe in terms of yardage. However, they have done a fine job of converting their yards into points. Wisconsin's defense is going to allow yardage against Indiana's spread, but whichever team can keep the other limited to field goals stands a big chance of winning (even though Indiana's Austin Starr is 15 of 16 on field goal attempts).

5. DeBauche Returning to Form

Punter Ken DeBauche has been on and off this year, resulting in the Badgers ranking just 75th nationally in net punting. Indiana's Tracy Porter is second in the Big Ten in yards per return and IU ranks 13th nationally. The Badgers cannot afford the big plays on special teams.

Badgermaniac's Prediction

I think this one could be a little wild with a lot of big plays, but on paper, I think Wisconsin gets a moderate edge. The key for the Badgers is to make the game as unexciting as possible…few turnovers, no explosive plays, no sacks, etc. Indiana seems to be the better team in a wild affair, but just playing good safe football should net the Badgers a win. My prediction: 35-31 Badgers with a late grinding drive to win it.

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