Here are the stats. I don't think there were any major surprises when the Wisconsin offense was on the field. The Badgers ran the ball nearly at will, gaining 294 yards on the ground and averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Add on 194 passing yards, and the Badgers accumulated 488 yards on offense. The success of the less-than-overwhelming Badger passing game was a bigger disappointment. Wisconsin averaged nearly 10 yards per pass attempt. I was pleasantly surprised by the production of the IU offense. The running game was a disappointment, and Darius Willis re-injured his bad ankle, but IU, like Wisconsin, averaged nearly 10 yards per pass play and Ben Chappell threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns. As I said yesterday, his two interceptions were costly and avoidable, but IU was able to move the ball with some success against one of the conference's best defenses.
Of course, as I said yesterday, if it hadn't been for John Clay's mild concussion, the IU offense may never have seen the ball at all. Clay ran for 134 yards and a touchdown on only 15 carries. In Clay's absence, freshman Montee Ball gained 115 yards on 27 carries and scored two touchdowns. Nick Toon, son of former Wisconsin great Al Toon, caught 5 balls for 123 yards, and his late fourth quarter catch on third down prevented the Hoosiers from taking a final shot at victory.
How did the Hoosier individuals fare?
- Bryan Payton, who has played little since the emergence of Willis, gained 48 yards on 8 carries.
- Tandon Doss had a day that is becoming routine for him: 6 catches, 92 yards, 2 touchdowns.
- Terrence Turner caught 6 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown.
- The Hoosiers had no luck against the Wisconsin offensive line: IU did not record a sack and had only one tackle for loss.
As I said yesterday, this reduces IU's margin of error to zero. The Hoosiers must win at Penn State for the first time ever and must beat Purdue to become conditionally bowl eligible. The first task seems nearly impossible and the second task seems less likely every week. Even if IU were to complete this very unlikely task, 6-6 may not be good enough for a Big Ten-affiliated bowl. The Big Ten has seven affiliated bowls. Currently, Iowa, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Northwestern have six wins. Minnesota plays South Dakota next week and therefore is almost certain to win at least six. If (under this quite far-fetched hypothetical in which IU finished 2-0) Michigan State beat Purdue, that would make eight bowl-eligible teams, and Illinois and Michigan still could hang on (Michigan would have to upset either Wisconsin or OSU and Illinois would have to beat Northwestern and Cincinnati). Of course, I would rather see IU on the open market than forced to play the MAC champion in Detroit, but it's almost certainly academic.
Well, the basketball season tips off on Friday (with an exhibition game against St. Joseph's this Monday), but there is football left to be played, and the Penn State discussion will begin this week.