We've entered the home stretch of the 2013 season in our series of looks at our opponents and so far according to us it's been a season that has set Wisconsin up for a lot of success, as they enter the final three games of the season with an 8-1 record following a win against a rare non-conference opponent in BYU.
To start the home stretch back in Big Ten play the Hoosiers of Indiana, a team that was vastly improved in Kevin Wilson's 2nd year at the helm, will greet the Badgers.
Wisconsin fans should well remember what a rise from nothing to something looks like in just three years, after all that's exactly what Barry Alvarez did inside Camp Randall from 1990-1993. So, could Wisconsin be looking at the end of a long run of crushing the Hoosiers, or is Indiana in for more tough times against the Badgers in what could be their final season as divisional opponents?
Either way, it's time to take a look at what challenges could await and what 2012 tells us about what to expect from Kevin Wilson's bunch. So, let's dive in, shall we?
2012 Record: 4-8, 2-6 B1G
Head Coach: Kevin Wilson, 3rd year at Indiana & overall
2012 Billingsley Ranking: No. 94
2012 Team Stats:
|130.8yds – 21TD's||Rushing||231.3yds – 29TD's|
|311.2yds – 24TD's/13INT's||Passing||232.2yds – 23TD's/7INT's|
2012 Crazy Stat: 17 sacks – For all the troubles this team seemed to have in the run game the offensive line of the Hoosiers had zero problems keeping their QB's upright. It's especially impressive considering they started two freshmen and a sophomore on the line last year.
What 2012 Tells Us About Indiana: Don't let the 4-8 record fool you, this was a team that was capable – at least offensively – of playing with any team in the country. Their issue was getting the defense to stop anyone. They scored 30 or more points in 6 games, however they gave up 40 or more points in 6 games as well. Seeing a pattern yet?
Part of that problem was the youth on the defensive side of the ball at linebacker, where three new starters were being broken in. 6 starters will return to the team in 2013 and that could bode well, except that 3 of the 5 missing starters were their most effective players. If Indiana wants to get to bowl eligibility in 2013 it needs to find a defense that can stop the run in the Big Ten. We all know that the conference can run the football, perhaps better as a unit, than any other conference in the nation and giving up over 230 yards a game on the ground won't get it done.
A lot of people thought that the Hoosiers were in deep trouble when Tre Roberson went down in their 2nd game, but they could have a minor QB controversy on their hands as fellow sophomore Cameron Coffman came in and was highly effective as a passer and we all know how Wilson loves his QB's to be passing threats, right?
Overall, 2012 told us this is a team pointing in the right direction, but still has plenty of room for improvement and must get better defensively if they have any hope of continuing the upward trajectory.
Series History: Wisconsin leads 39-18-2, Last Meeting: 2012 – Wisconsin win 62-14
Key Losses: Will Matte, OL (Honorable Mention All-B1G); Stephen Houston, RB (749yds, 4.7avg, 12TD's); Ted Bolser, TE (41 rec, 445yds, 3TD's); Larry Black, Jr., DT (36 tackles, 12tfl's, 4 sacks); Adam Replogle, DT (71 tackles, 13fl's, 5 sacks); Greg Heban, Safety (91 tackles, 7tfl's, 3INT's); Mitch Ewald, K (HM all-B1G, 15-20 FG's, long of 46)
Key Returners: Tre Roberson, QB (368yds, 66% comp. rate, 2TD's/1INT passing, 133yds, 11.1avg, 3TD's rushing, 2 games played); Cameron Coffman, QB (2,734yds, 60.7 comp. rate, 15TD's/11INT's); Cody Latimer, WR (2nd team all-B1G, 51 rec, 805yds, 6TD's); Kofi Hughes, WR (43 rec, 639yds, 3TD's); Shane Wynn, WR (HM all-B1G, 68 rec, 660yds, 6TD's); Jason Spriggs, LT (HM all-B1G); David Cooper, LB (86 tackles, 9tfl's, 3 sacks); Mark Murphy, Safety (70 rec, 3tfl's, 1 sack)
WAY Too Early Prediction: Wisconsin 44, Indiana 27 – This game may actually be a lot closer than most expect simply because so many offensive weapons return for Wilson, who's quickly showing his teams will stand up and fight against any team. However, they are going to be going up against one of the Big Ten's best defenses and asking them to outpace the Badgers offense will be too much to ask. It won't quite be the ass kicking that Bucky has handed out over the past few seasons, but it will be an easy victory at home and it will move the Badgers to 9-1 on the season, keeping pace with the Buckeyes in the division race.