No. 6 Wisconsin hosts struggling Hoosiers

Wisconsin has been a little bit luckier this season. Coach Bret

Bielema has been a little bit bolder. Now, it’s the sixth-ranked

Badgers who have the rosiest outlook in the Big Ten’s final

month.

While Wisconsin’s players certainly won’t be thinking about a

potential Rose Bowl appearance when they face Indiana on Saturday

at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, the opportunity awaits.

If Wisconsin (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten), Ohio State (8-1, 4-1) and

Michigan State (9-1, 5-1) all win out, the tiebreaker will be the

school highest in the BCS poll. That’s currently the Badgers at No.

7.

It’s just another charmed scenario in a suspenseful season for

the Badgers, who beat the then-No. 1 Buckeyes the last time they

were at home on Oct. 16 and needed a gutsy fake punt call to escape

Iowa City with a 31-30 win over the Hawkeyes.

Not even a week off and a flat first half at Purdue slowed them

down. Third string running back Montee Ball went for 127 yards and

two second-half touchdowns to rally the Badgers to a 34-13 win.

Wisconsin has even converted five straight fourth downs.

”I can’t determine boldness. I will say this, you don’t call

things you don’t expect to have success,” Bielema said. ”As a

head coach, you don’t want to call a particular game-changing

decision unless you have a pretty good idea it’s going to have

success.”

The Badgers will have their depth tested against the

Hoosiers.

Bielema said he believes all three of his running backs will

play, but both John Clay (right knee) and James White (left knee)

have dealt with sprained ligaments and Ball appears in line to get

the first start of his career.

”I didn’t mean for it to make national news that John may not

play,” Bielema said. ”I think he’ll probably be out there and

it’ll be back to having three guys out there for us on Saturday

that’ll help us have a chance to win.”

Ball is certainly prepared to be the top back, but he’ll also be

running through a shuffled line that’s missing its anchor at

center.

Peter Konz (ankle) is likely out, and Bill Nagy has been taking

reps there this week instead of the left guard John Moffitt.

Bielema said he didn’t want to disrupt multiple positions on his

huge and talented line.

”The coaches always tell us that we should all have a little

swagger to us, and that’s most definitely what I’m going to try,”

Ball said. ”If the line comes out and they play like they did last

week, then everything should unfold itself.”

Everything is unraveling again for Indiana.

The Hoosiers (4-5, 0-5) are long shots to make their first bowl

since 2007 because they need two wins in the final three games even

though they’ll likely be underdogs in each.

After Wisconsin, they play Penn State in a home game they agreed

to move to FedEx Field in Landover, Md., for $3 million and finish

with a trip to in-state rival Purdue.

The Hoosiers also have to deal with confidence concerns after an

18-13 loss to Iowa when top receiver Damarlo Belcher dropped the

go-ahead touchdown pass with 28 seconds left.

Indiana coach Bill Lynch said there’s no magic to turning around

the program.

”If I had the answer we’d fix it. We are close, but we have to

keep banging away at it,” Lynch said. ”We have to keep believing,

keep working and keep preparing.”

The Hoosiers gave Wisconsin a tough game in Bloomington last

year and Wisconsin has struggled recently against spread offenses,

but these Badgers haven’t beaten themselves this year on either

side of the ball outside of a poor performance at Michigan

State.

Wisconsin is committing the nation’s fewest penalties at 3.22 a

game and the three running backs have committed just one fumble in

351 touches.

”We all know what the depth chart is, and we joke about it and

stuff like that, but it’s definitely healthy competition,” Ball

said. ”The line should get the job done, and I won’t let my team

down.”