A rollercoaster ride of a season for the Wisconsin Badgers restarts, once again. After yet another cancellation, the Badgers gear up for another ranked test, this time against the 12th ranked Indiana Hoosiers as we take a look at Wisconsin vs Indiana.
Yes, you heard that correctly. The 12th ranked Indiana Hoosiers. Head Coach Tom Allen has done an incredible job revitalizing that program and results are coming with it. The Hoosiers come into Madison posting a 5-1 record, with the lone blemish coming at the hands of powerhouse Ohio State, 42-35, in Columbus.
However, Allen’s squad limps into Camp Randall, losing star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to a torn ACL in their win vs Maryland last weekend. Now, we’ll get into the weeds as we preview Wisconsin vs Indiana.
What To Watch For:
- With the aforementioned Penix Jr out, former highly touted recruit Jack Tuttle takes the reigns of the Hoosier offense. The former Utah commit features a big frame, a strong arm, and has all the tools to continue running their offense effectively.
- Wisconsin cornerback Rachad Wildgoose recently announced he plans to enter the NFL Draft. Hurt in the Northwestern game and likely out for the rest of the season anyway, Jim Leonhard’s secondary has lost maybe it’s most talented player. Look for Semar Melvin to step in alongside Caesar Williams and Faion Hicks. Depth in the secondary is plentiful, but this group will be tested by the most talented receiving corps they will play all year.
- That receiving core for Indiana features two NFL caliber wideouts in Whop Philyor and Ty Fryfogle. The latter leads the Big Ten in receiving yards and touchdown receptions. The Badger corners play an aggressive style. It will be key to see how much the officials let them play with Indiana’s key duo. That may determine the outcome of this matchup.
- The Badgers pass rush must improve. I mentioned this in the lead-up to the Northwestern game as a possible chink in the Badgers defense, and it’s proving to be a concern. While they lack a star pass rusher at the moment, collectively they will need to elevate their game to harass Tuttle and co. Look for Nick Herbig to make an impact early.
- Paul Chryst’s offense has talented pass catchers of their own. If seniors Kendric Pryor and Danny Davis III return, the Badger offense may return to the output similar to its first two games as they face a very susceptible Indiana passing defense.
- Getting Graham Mertz going again is key. The freshman has shone brightly, and lowly as seen just two weeks ago. Getting him comfortable early is vital for his in-game confidence. Look for Chryst to get him into a rhythm while duly establishing a good ground game.
- With that being said, the ground game must establish itself early. Even with a talented quarterback like Mertz, the key to any good Wisconsin offense is a strong run game. Freshman Jalen Berger looks to be establishing himself as the crown jewel of the running backs. Berger is averaging six yards per carry, so look for more touches his way. Complementing him, Nakia Watson and Garrett Groshek will both continue to play key roles in the short yard run game and obvious passing downs respectively.
- Turnovers. The Hoosier defense is very good at forcing them. The outcome of this game could be dictated very simply by this. If the Badgers turn the ball over multiple times they will lose. If they protect the ball, they will win.
To say this season has been hectic would be an understatement. We’re in the middle of December and the Badgers have played just three games. A win Saturday could be the most memorable part of the season for this group.
Wisconsin has won 10 in a row in this matchup. If they want to make it 11, they’ll have to show up from the start. Look for Chryst to have his guys ready, because undoubtedly Tom Allen will.