: 5-0 (1-0)
2010 record: 11-2 (7-1), Big Ten Champions, lost to TCU in Rose Bowl
2011 Sagarin: 5 (IU is #120)
2010 Sagarin: 12 (IU was #98)
Coach: Bret Bielema (6th season, 54-16)
Series: Wisconsin leads 37-18-2
TV: noon, BTN
Blog: Bucky's Fifth Quarter
the strange thing about that game was how quickly it got out of hand. With 6 minutes remaining in the second quarter, IU trailed 17-10 and had the ball in Wisconsin territory. A missed field goal led to a long Wisconsin touchdown drive to make it 24-10 and to put the Hoosiers in a tough spot, and at that point, it seemed likely that the Hoosiers chance for victory was gone, but it would have difficult to predict that the Badgers would score another 59 points in the final 35 minutes of the game. Most games with scores that lopsided tend to be front-loaded, not back-loaded. Every single Wisconsin offensive possession ended in a score, all but two ended in touchdowns, and the Badgers returned an interception for a touchdown as well. It was a thorough thrashing, and I don't know if it's good or bad that IU returns to the scene of the humiliation so soon.
As good as the Badgers were last season, they have taken it to another level this season, thanks in large part to their new quarterback, NC State transfer Russell Wilson. The Badgers lost Scott Tolzien to graduation, but were fortunate to land Wilson, a three year starter for the Wolfpack, when NC State coach Tom O'Brien gave him an ultimatum about quitting baseball (NC State is 3-3-, 0-2 in the ACC). While they haven't played the toughest schedule, it's hard to overstate how dominant Wisconsin has been. The Badgers beat Nebraska 48-17 in their Big Ten opener, and that was Wisconsin's closed game of the season. They are in the top ten nationally in both total offense and total defense, averaging about 300 yards more in offense than they are allowing on defense. They are allowing just over ten points per game, and never more than 17. Their coach, Bret Bielema, is, to put it kindly, not known for taking his foot off the gas. Here are the Badgers' stats:
What's not to like? Wilson is completing nearly 75 percent of his passes and has 13 TDs to 1 interception. Montee Ball has 511 rushing yards and 13 (!) rushing touchdowns himself. They are very, very good.
The question then becomes, what should we expect from IU in this game? A win, frankly, seems more doubtful than in any game IU has played in the last...well, who knows? I expect and hope to see some fight from the Hoosiers throughout the game and no matter the score. While the current coaching staff wasn't around for last year's debacle, most of the players were. I simply hope there is enough pride to fight as hard as they can for as long as they can. In 1997, IU lost to Iowa 62-0, and completed what at the time was the biggest one-year turnaround in NCAA history by winning 14-7 the next year. I don't expect anything of the sort, but I expect a tougher but ultimately futile effort tomorrow. Wisconsin 45, Indiana 13.