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November 15, 2013

All-Out Blitz: Indiana





Welcome to BadgerBlitz.com's "All-Out Blitz,", where you'll find everything that you need to know about the Badgers' next opponent. The Badgers (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten) will dive back in to conference play after beating BYU 27-17 last week. This week the Indiana Hoosiers come to town with a high-flying offense in tow, which could be a tough matchup for a stingy Wisconsin defense. The game is scheduled to kick off at 11 a.m. CST, and will air on ESPN2.

In the meantime, here's what you need to know about the Indiana Hoosiers:

Head coach: Kevin Wilson (3rd season @ Indiana), 9-24 (4-17 Big Ten)
Indiana All-Time Record: 454-624-45 (.424)
2013 Record: 4-5 (2-3 Big Ten)
Ranking: NR (BCS), NR (AP), NR (Coaches Poll)
All-Time record against Wisconsin: 18-39-2

Season outlook

Indiana fell two wins shy of a bowl game in Kevin Wilson's second year as the head coach, picking up two Big Ten wins after an 0-8 season in his first year on campus. The Hoosiers returned a stunning 19 starters from last year's team, including 10 on and offense that already improved on their 2011 performance. That kind of experience convinced several media members and fans, myself included, that the Hoosiers would end their bowl drought this season. At this point two more wins might be a long shot, though.

This year

Indiana has dropped a few winnable games this season, but their offense has lived up to its billing. The Hoosiers are averaging 43.1 points per game, which is up from 30.8 and 21.4 in 2012 and 2011. The Hoosiers are also averaging 527.1 yards per game, and pick up almost seven yards per play- both marks ranking in the top three of Big Ten offenses.

The Hoosiers have a 50/50 run-to-pass split, and lead the Big Ten with 347 passing attempts through nine games. At quarterback the Hoosiers tend to rotate between Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson, who each have a particular strength in passing or tucking the ball and running.

Sudfeld's the purer passer of the two. Sudfeld is completing 61.6 percent of his passes after completing 62.2 percent a year ago during his freshman season. Sudfeld already has 2,182 passing yards this year to go with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions, clocking in at about 8.5 yards per attempt and a quarterback rating of 150.77. He's not much of a running threat, though. Sudfeld has -10 rushing yards on 29 attempts this season, including sack yardage.

Roberson takes over as the running threat at quarterback when they rotate Sudfeld out of the game. He has 177 rushing yards on 47 attempts, to go with five rushing touchdowns. He can throw the ball too, though he's not quite as effective as Sudfeld. Roberson is completing 59.3 percent of his passes, but he has a better touchdown to interception ratio at 9 to 2 through nine games.

The Hoosiers took a tough blow early this week when they announced that they would likely be without running back Tevin Coleman against the Badgers. Coleman has 958 rushing yards on 131 carries, averaging 7.31 yards per carry with 12 touchdowns. Without Coleman the Hoosiers will have to turn to senior Stephen Houston, who has 536 yards on 73 attempts. This isn't an Indiana team that runs a lot, but when they have their passing game going it's a nice change of pace.

Like most spread teams the Hoosiers get a lot of players involved in the passing game. Cody Latimer is the biggest name to know- the junior has 884 receiving yards on 55 receptions and leads the team with eight receiving touchdowns. Shane Wynn and Kofi Hughes are virtually even as the No. 2 and 3 targets: Wynn has 29 receptions to Hughes' 31, while Wynn has 510 receiving yards to Hughes' 505. Tight end Ted Bolser also has five receiving touchdowns this season, giving the Hoosiers at least four dependable options to move down the field.

Defensively the story is much different: the Hoosiers allow almost one yard for every yard they pick up on offense, and give up over 37 points per game on offense. They're practically even in terms of vulnerability against the run or the pass: they're 10th the Big Ten in stopping the run, and allow over eight yards per passing attempt (11th in the Big Ten).

Matchup to watch: Wisconsin's pass rush vs. Indiana's offensive line

The Badgers are probably going to be able to run on the Hoosiers, who have the third-worst rush defense in the Big Ten. But in order to win the Badgers are going to need to stop the Hoosiers on occasion, and one of the best ways to do that is to get to the quarterback. The Badgers at the least need to get pressure on the Hoosiers to try and force a few bad throws, while their secondary needs to keep track of Indiana's plethora of wide receivers and tight ends. Getting a solid pass rush depends on the whole defense, but the Badgers could use a good game from their defensive line and the linebackers that they decide to blitz.

The pick: Wisconsin 52 Indiana 28

Despite Wisconsin's previous success against the Hoosiers I have a hard time seeing Indiana score less than 28 this week. They've put up at least 28 points in every game this year, even against Michigan State- that's pretty impressive, and I think the Hoosiers will be able to match that even against a tough Wisconsin defense. The problem for Indiana comes on defense, where they haven't improved much from the teams that game up ridiculous amounts of rushing yards to the Badgers over the last few years. Indiana will probably shift players into the box to try and stop the run, but I still don't think that will be enough in the end. The Hoosiers will have to play an absolutely perfect game to beat the Badgers this week, and I don't think it's going to happen.

The point after:

Indiana's game against Wisconsin this week will be their third trip to Madison in their last four games. The last time either team played three out of four in this series at home was from 1994 to 1999, when the Badgers and Hoosiers play three games in Madison and one game in Bloomington.

For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.



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