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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 10, 12 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (52,929) -- Bloomington, Indiana. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Wisconsin 5-1, IU 2-3. Away Record: Wisconsin 1-2, IU 2-2. Neutral Record: Wisconsin 0-0, IU 0-0. Conference Record: Wisconsin 3-2, IU 2-3. Series Record: Wisconsin leads, 37-18-2.
GAME NOTES: Hoping to secure a berth in the Big Ten Championship Game for the second consecutive season, the Wisconsin Badgers pay a visit to Memorial Stadium this Saturday to take on the Indiana Hoosiers.
Bret Bielema has guided Wisconsin to back-to-back Big Ten titles and Rose Bowl appearances, and with a win this week his squad will lock up a spot in this year's Big Ten title tilt to be played in Indianapolis on Dec. 1. Penn State and Ohio State are ahead of Wisconsin in the Leaders Division standings, but both of those schools are ineligible for postseason play due to NCAA sanctions. The Badgers will have had two weeks to prepare for this contest, as they suffered a 16-13 setback to Michigan State prior to last weekend's bye.
This contest marks the final home game of the season for Indiana. The Hoosiers are coming off consecutive wins at Illinois (31-17) and home against Iowa (24-21), the first time they have won back-to-back Big Ten games since 2007. IU needs to win two of its final three games in order to become bowl eligible.
Wisconsin leads the head-to-head series, 37-18-2, after routing IU in Madison last October, 59-7.
The Badgers saw their 21-game home win streak come to an end against Michigan State, as they could hardly get anything going on offense. Redshirt freshman quarterback Joel Stave was 9-of-11 for 127 yards and a touchdown before exiting early in the second half with an injury to his collarbone, which turned out to be season-ending. His absence will put added pressure on Heisman candidate Montee Ball and the running game, which was held to 19 net yards against MSU. After rushing for 10 touchdowns over his previous four games, Ball was held out of the end zone and remains five TDs shy of breaking the NCAA career record of 78, held by Miami-Ohio's Travis Prentice. Just one week earlier against Minnesota, Ball and junior backfield mate James White became the first FBS teammates to eclipse 150 rushing yards in a game this season.
Wisconsin's defense has picked up its play of late, having allowed an average of 14.3 points over its last four Big Ten tilts. The unit now ranks 16th nationally in both total defense (311.3 ypg) and scoring defense (17.6 ppg). In fact, six of the team's last nine opponents have been held to fewer than 20 points. The Badgers are 45-4 during the Bielema era when allowing 20 points or less. However, one of those four setbacks came in the last outing against Spartans. MSU was kept out of the end zone until Le'Veon Bell's game-tying five-yard touchdown run with 1:08 remaining in the fourth quarter, which capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive. The Spartans won it with a touchdown pass in the extra session, overcoming just 277 yards of total offense for the game.
Despite its sub par record, Indiana has scored at least 24 points in every game this season and a school-record 10 straight overall. The Hoosiers have already eclipsed last season's point total with three games yet to play. They enter the weekend leading the Big Ten in passing offense (299.9 ypg), while ranking second in total offense (446.7 ypg) and sacks allowed (1.33), and third in scoring offense (33.1 ppg). Cameron Coffman completed 21-of-33 passes for a career-high 315 yards and three TDs against Iowa. All three of those touchdown passes went to Cody Latimer, who finished with 113 yards on seven receptions to earn co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors. Teammate Kofi Hughes tallied six catches for 110 yards, as he and Latimer became the first Hoosiers to go over 100 receiving yards in a Big Ten game since 1992. Running back Stephen Houston was held to 52 yards on 18 carries and saw his touchdown streak ended at nine straight games. He also lost IU's first fumble of the season in the victory.
Indiana currently leads the Big Ten in tackles for loss (7.4 per game) and is third in sacks (2.4). The defense has continued to show improvement as the season has progressed. Over their last three games, the Hoosiers have allowed an average of only 18.3 points and only 173.7 passing yards. They have notched nine sacks, 22 tackles for loss and three fumble recovers in that same span, which included those rare consecutive conference victories. Compare that to the previous three games in which IU allowed an average of 40 points and 275 passing yards en route to three losses. Last week, the unit held Iowa to 96 rushing yards, the first Big Ten opponent the Hoosiers have held below the century mark since Nov. 27, 2010. Defensive tackles Adam Replogle and Larry Black have been a big reason for the recent turnaround, as they are tied for the conference lead among DTs with four sacks and nine TFL each.
While IU has made some strides defensively, it will face a stiff test against Ball and White, both of whom are surely looking to rebound from a tough outing coming off last week's bye. In three career games against the Hoosiers, Ball has averaged 141.3 rushing yards and has scored eight TDs.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wisconsin 27, Indiana 23
11/07 10:45:20 ET
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