Indiana faces roadblock at No. 17 Wisconsin
MADISON, Wis. (AP)
Most teams would be happy averaging 280 yards over two games. Wisconsin can grind that number out on the ground in one.
Not surprisingly, the Badgers think they can do better. Much better.
And look who will visit Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday to play the 17th-ranked Badgers. They'll host Indiana, which has the Big Ten's worst defense in allowing 519 yards and 37.4 points per game.
''We still leave yards out there sometimes, each week,'' running back James White said. ''So we want to try not to miss any cuts and get as many yards as possible.''
This could be a long afternoon for Indiana (4-5, 2-3 Big Ten), which has lost eight straight to the Badgers (7-2, 4-1).
The Hoosiers remain confident after pulling away from Illinois 52-35 last week. Coach Kevin Wilson resorted to a golf analogy in describing the challenge with keeping up with Wisconsin.
''You're not going to go up playing Wisconsin on your heels, hoping they have a bad game, hoping to get a call, hoping they get a turnover,'' Wilson said. ''It's the Tiger Woods' mentality: He's going to make his putts. I'm going to make mine.''
Here's five things to know about Saturday's game:
BOWLED OVER: Indiana needs two victories in its last three games to be eligible for a bowl game.
But Wilson's team faces brutal two-game road swing the next two weeks at Wisconsin and Ohio State, two of the toughest venues in the Big Ten. If the Hoosiers can somehow pull off an upset either of these next two weeks, they'd be in much better shape given they finish the regular season at home against woeful Purdue.
Overall, the Hoosiers are making progress under third-year coach Wilson, who won five games combined in his first two seasons.
''I think we're making strides, and there's a point in time where I think we're going to have success against top teams,'' Wilson said. ''We've kind of been close.''
BADGERED: ''Close'' does not describe Indiana's games against Wisconsin, which has an average margin of victory of 35.4 points in its eight-game win streak in the series. Indiana will attempt to beat Wisconsin for the first time since 2002.
Wisconsin is cruising right now, shutting down BYU's up-tempo offense in a 27-17 victory last week. It's a well-prepared team that hasn't taken an opponent for granted all season.
Coach Gary Andersen sets the tone, along with strong leaders in the senior class.
''Nobody seems satisfied. Nobody seems content,'' offensive lineman Ryan Groy said. ''Everybody seems hungry to play well, play hard.''
DOWNSHIFTED: Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon has been so good this year, it's notable if the running back doesn't rush for more than 86 yards in either of the last two games.
Andersen has fielded a couple of questions since the BYU game about whether something might be slowing Gordon (128.9 yards) down. Andersen has indicated there are no physical issues, though foes have been sniffing out Gordon's signature play - the jet sweep - more the last few weeks.
Gordon has shown improvements in blocking, and he's catching passes more consistently in practice.
''He'll be fine. I expect a couple big games out of him this week, these last three,'' Andersen said.
TURN IT UP: Defense might be a problem, but Indiana can move the ball. The Hoosiers' 52 touchdowns this season are already a school record, and they've scored 28 or more in 10 straight games dating back to last season. Indiana may also have to play without leading rusher Tevin Coleman (106.4 yards), who has a sprained ankle. Stephen Houston figures to step back in as the starter.
Nate Sudfield's 19 passing touchdowns lead the Big Ten.
INSIDE MAN: Appreciate Wisconsin's last two home games, Badgers fans. They'll be the last two in the collegiate career of linebacker Chris Borland.
Coming back from a hamstring injury, Borland had 13 tackles and two sacks last week over the Cougars. The defensive playmaker is also one forced fumble in his career from tying the FBS record of 14 shared by five players.
''The best football player in the league may be Chris Borland, and there are a lot of great football players in this league,'' Wilson said.