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
“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
“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
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
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
“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
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
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.