Indiana-Wisconsin Preview

No. 4 Wisconsin had a week off after pounding then-No. 8

Nebraska and will now host Indiana – a team the Badgers beat 83-20

a year ago in their best offensive performance in 95 years.

Coach Bret Bielema says he won’t allow his team to be lulled

into complacency with all of that going on. He said the Badgers

(5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) need to keep their edge going into Saturday’s

matchup.

“One of the roles we love to be (as coach) is a humbler,” he

said. “We got after people pretty good last week and challenged

them during the course of the week. I’m sure they’re feeling good,

but not that good.”

Indiana (1-5, 0-2) is off to a rough start under first-year

coach Kevin Wilson and his Hoosiers will face a Badgers team

hitting on all cylinders. Bielema makes no apologies for the romp

against Indiana last season, but he realizes the high score created

a bit of commotion.

From a late defensive touchdown to a score by a reserve

quarterback, he said the victory “raised some eyebrows” for

Wisconsin, and likely has led to more exposure for the team this

season.

“The stars were kind of aligned for us that day,” Bielema said.

“I do believe it’s created a little bit of talk about Wisconsin, a

little bit of a buzz in the way we finished and the way we’re

playing this year.”

A star has emerged for the Badgers in quarterback Russell

Wilson, who holds an FBS-leading 216.89 rating in pass efficiency,

and ranks third in the nation in completion percentage at 74.8. He

has completed 83 of 111 passes for 1,391 yards and 13 TDs and a

single interception.

As for last year’s game against Indiana, which took place while

Wilson was still at North Carolina State, he said he’s just

focusing on the opponent, not history.

“It’s a new year, and a new opportunity for us and them,” Wilson

said of the Hoosiers. “We have to come out prepared and have a

great game.”

Wilson has gotten plenty of help from a typically powerful

Wisconsin running game. Montee Ball, who had 167 yards and three

touchdowns last year against Indiana, ran for 151 yards and four

TDs in the 48-17 drubbing of Nebraska on Oct. 1.

Ball has multiple touchdowns in each of the Badgers’ games this

season, while Wisconsin has rolled up at least 200 yards on the

ground each time it has taken the field.

Bielema spent last Saturday watching college football, including

the Hoosiers’ game against Illinois. Indiana scored a touchdown on

the opening kickoff and got a field goal to take a 10-0 lead, but

the Illini rallied for a 41-20 win after capitalizing on defensive

breakdowns and turnovers.

Bielema said the Hoosiers have shown they’re “right there

knocking on the door.” He also said he heard from a handful of

sources that the score from last season’s game is displayed

prominently in the Indiana locker room, and a point of emphasis for

Indiana heading into Saturday’s game.

“We’ve got an (opponent), I know, whose win-loss record isn’t

that good, but they’ve been competitive,” Bielema said. “To me a

true sign (of improvement) as a head coach is if your team is

improving each week, and that makes a big statement to me. And they

definitely do that.”

Indiana’s players remain confident even though the Hoosiers have

lost 14 of 15 in the Big Ten and 13 straight to Top-25 opponents.

They’ve dropped six in a row to Wisconsin by an average of 30.5

points.

“We know we have the ability, it’s just a matter of applying the

new techniques and what we practice during the week,” Indiana

center Will Matte said. “We just haven’t been able to do that

yet.”

Part of the problem has been quarterback play. Dusty Kiel

started last weekend, but injured his ankle and was replaced by

freshman Tre Roberson.

Roberson threw an interception but was the more productive

player, going 11 of 17 for 148 yards and rushing for a

touchdown.

Whichever player is under center will hope Wisconsin is looking

ahead. After Saturday’s game, the Badgers visit No. 23 Michigan

State and Ohio State for prime-time showdowns, a key stretch as

they try to reach the inaugural Big Ten title game.