MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen told his team just before they left the tunnel that he wanted them to get off to a fast start against the Indiana Hoosiers, who came in to Saturday's game averaging 43.1 points per game.
And start fast they did, scoring two touchdowns in under three minutes of play after the Hoosiers turned the ball over on both of their first two possessions. James White scored on a 93-yard run on Wisconsin's first play from scrimmage and Melvin Gordon followed up with a 1-yard score on Wisconsin's next drive to put the No. 22 Badgers up 14-0, shredding Indiana's defense along the way to a 51-3 blowout win. The Badgers moved to 8-2 on the season with a 5-1 record in Big Ten play, while Indiana fell to 4-6, including a 2-4 mark in-conference.
White finished the game with a career-high 205 rushing yards on 20 carries in addition to his early touchdown run. Gordon added in another 146 rushing yards on 13 carries, finishing behind White in net yardage for the third consecutive game. As a whole the Badgers finished with 554 rushing yards on 50 carries, with third string running back Corey Clement chipping in another 100-yard performance and wide receiver Jared Abbrederis rushing for 86 yards and two touchdowns on three carries.
The weather was a factor for both teams, with an early-morning fog turning into a steady drizzle for most of the game. The wind was also problematic for both passing games, thanks to a strong wind from the south that limited chances to take shots down field. But the Badgers said they knew what the weather was going to be like coming into the game, and it worked to their advantage.
"We knew what the conditions were going to be, and we knew that that's running back weather out there," Gordon said after the game. "We knew that was a passing team so the weather would work against them and it would work right for us, so we knew we were going to get the ball and put the team on our back, and we definitely did that today."
Gashing Indiana's defense is nothing new to the Badgers, but Wisconsin's defense was arguably more impressive in shutting down the high-flying Hoosiers. Indiana picked up just 224 total yards in the game, averaging 3.7 yards per play after managing a 6.9 mark through their first nine games. Andersen said his defense played "lights-out" in the game, which included a goal line stand in the third quarter that kept the Hoosiers out of the endzone.
"Defensively, where do you want me to start? It's off the charts," Andersen said after the game. "They were able to dictate tempo, they got themselves in a position to change calls when they needed to, their position was off the charts. They got on and off the field. The pace was a non-factor for Indiana. This offense had us all worried and had me a little bit petrified walking in to this game, because they're very talented on the offensive side of the football."
Indiana's quarterback rotation was held to limited numbers for most of the game as well. Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson combined to complete just 12-of-30 passes for 122 yards, managing just 4.1 yards per attempt. The Hoosiers were also held to just 102 rushing yards in the game, with starting running back Tevin Coleman held out of the game.
It all added to one of Indiana's worst offensive performances over the last few seasons. Until Saturday's game Indiana hadn't been held to single digit points since Nov. 19, 2011, a 55-3 loss to Michigan State. Several Badgers defenders weren't aware of just how well how well they kept Indiana in check, either. Defensive end Ethan Hemer was surprised to hear that he and his teammates held the Hoosiers to about 40 points below their season average, which the senior attributed to successful game-planning from the coaches.
"Wow, that's pretty crazy when you think about it," Hemer said after the game. "I just think that speaks to how much this defense has improved against offenses like that. We've come up with a system and a game plan the last couple times we've played a team like that."
And in a game where the Badgers were expected to trade blows with the high-octane Hoosiers, the Badgers were happy to settle for one swift knockout punch, even though Andersen didn't want to take too much credit for his team's fast start.
"No credit [to the] pregame speech," Andersen joked in his post-game press conference. "But that was something we talk about. We want to get that done and we thought it was so important this week. They went out and executed."
For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.