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Indiana (4-5) at (17) Wisconsin (7-2)
Saturday, November 16, 12 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Mike Castiglione, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The 17th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers look to continue their recent dominance over the Indiana Hoosiers when the two meet up for a Big Ten Conference tilt at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Indiana has not beaten Wisconsin since 2002, a span of eight straight meetings. The Badgers lead the all-time series, 39-18-2.
Wisconsin enters the game seeking a fifth straight win after knocking off BYU at home last weekend, 27-17. The Badgers have not won five in a row since the 2011 season. They are unbeaten in five home games this year, with an average margin of victory of 32.6 points. Dating back to September 2012, each of Wisconsin's last 13 victories have come by double-digit margins.
Indiana comes into this matchup with some confidence after Saturday's 52-35 win over Illinois, which snapped a three-game losing streak. The Hoosiers' postseason hopes are still alive, but they'll need to win two of their final three games to qualify for a bowl. Following this tilt, they'll play at third- ranked Ohio State followed by a home date with Purdue to conclude the regular season.
Indiana used an air and ground assault to dismantle Illinois over the weekend. Sophomore running back Tevin Coleman earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors for his role in the win, the first IU running back to take home the weekly honor since Levron Williams in 2001. Coleman needed only 15 carries to produce a career-high 215 yards (14.3 ypc) and two touchdowns, and he became the first Hoosiers back to post back-to-back 100-yard rushing games since BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 2003. Teammate Stephen Houston also got in on the fun with 150 yards and two TDs on 17 carries, as he and Coleman became the first Hoosiers tandem in school history to eclipse the century mark in the same game. Not to be outdone, wideout Cody Latimer set careers highs with 11 catches, 189 yards and three scores, marking his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season.
While Latimer has no doubt displayed a chemistry with quarterback Nate Sudfeld, Coleman remains the focal point. His 12 rushing scores are the most in the conference, and he is second in yards per carry (7.3) and third in rushing yards per game (106.4). With three games still to play, Coleman's 958 rushing yards are already the most for an IU running back since 2001. He has been as big a contributor as any to the Hoosiers having scored 28 points or more in a program-record 10 straight games dating back to last season. Their 650 total yards against Illinois tied a school record.
Indiana's defense is an opportunistic unit, having collected a Big Ten-best eight fumble recoveries. However, IU was quiet in that department last week, as Illinois racked up 30 first downs and 612 total yards while converting 11- of-19 third downs. Starting defensive backs Tim Bennett (concussion-like symptoms), Mark Murphy (ankle) and Greg Heban (ankle) all missed time with various injuries and are questionable for this week's contest. Bennett would be a particularly tough absence to overcome, considering he leads the nation with 19 pass breakups and 20 passes defended, and also tops the conference with 53 solo tackles.
Regardless of who suits up, the Hoosiers defenders will have their hands full with this week's opponent. At his weekly press conference, IU head coach Kevin Wilson talked about the challenges of stopping Wisconsin's vaunted rushing attack.
"We're excited to have two running backs two weeks in a row rush for 100 yards. They've got two guys that average 100 yards, and they do it every day, and they have for years," Wilson said. "They've got great linemen, quality tight ends; fullback's a tremendous player, quarterback that can manage it."
As Wilson referenced, Wisconsin is the only FBS team with two players averaging better than 100 yards per game in Melvin Gordon (128.9) and senior James White (105.7). White previously assumed the role of Robin to record- setter Montee Ball's Batman, and for much of this year he has been overshadowed by the explosive Gordon despite solid numbers. Gordon, the third- year sophomore, ran for 140 or more yards in six of the first seven games before gaining only 62 and 86, respectively, in the last two. Still, White has an equal share of the pie, and he has six 100-yard rushing games to his credit this year, and another 98-yard effort. White scored three times in the win over BYU and now has 43 rushing TDs for his career.
Defensively, Wisconsin has allowed only three touchdowns at home on the season, second only to top-ranked Alabama. The Badgers have responded well to first-year defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's 3-4 scheme, as they come into this game ranked fifth nationally in scoring defense (15.2 ppg) and seventh in total defense (294.9 ypg). They have been equally stingy against the run and the pass, ranking eighth in run defense (98.4) and seventh in pass efficiency defense.
Four of Wisconsin's nine opponents failed to score a touchdown, and a big reason for that has been the play of senior inside linebacker Chris Borland, the reigning Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Week. He racked up 13 tackles against BYU and has averaged 13 stops (1.3 TFL) and a sack over his last three contests.
"The best football player in the league may be Chris Borland, and there are a lot of great football players in this league," coach Wilson said of facing Wisconsin's top defensive playmaker. "Number 44, the linebacker is a special, special player. That's awesome. (The Badgers) are good up front, sound in coverage, and a good football team."
Wisconsin was unrelenting against BYU, allowing only 196 yards through three quarters. Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill completed only 19-of-41 passes in the face of steady pressure, as he took four sacks on the day and was often hurried. Michael Caputo led the charge with 12 tackles.
Indiana's offense was back in high gear last weekend, but a much tougher test awaits in Madison. On the other side of the ball, the Hoosiers must somehow limit the nation's top backfield tandem -- no doubt a tall order -- if they hope to pull this one out. But with the dim light of postseason dreams still flickering, don't rule out a closer game than the records would indicate.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wisconsin 37, Indiana 27
11/14 16:03:19 ET
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