Wisconsin vs. Indiana: Montee Ball Crucial to Badgers Beating Hoosiers

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2012

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 15:  Running back Montee Ball #28 of the Wisconsin Badgers breaks through the line of the Utah State Aggies September 15, 2012 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images)
Tom Lynn/Getty Images

You might read the headline and say to yourself "Gee, thanks captain obvious," but Montee Ball (and James White) are more important to the Badgers finding success against the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday than you might originally think.

Indiana might be 4-5 on the season and 2-3 in Big Ten play, but its spread offense is one of the best in the nation, averaging 33 points and 300 yards passing per game, numbers that put the Hoosiers 43rd and 21st in the nation, respectively.

While the Badgers defense has been outstanding in 2012, ranking 17th against the run (108 yards per game), 33rd against the pass (203 yards per game) and 16th in scoring (17.6 points per game), the best defense against a potent offense is to keep them on the sidelines.

That's something Wisconsin can do by running Ball (and White) early and often against a Hoosiers defense that ranks 107th in the nation against the run, allowing 208 yards per game on the ground.

In past three wins, Ball has 529 yards rushing and seven touchdowns, while White has 341 yards and four touchdowns.

Their most recent loss to Michigan State? Ball had 46 yards on the ground, White 16.

It doesn't take a master's degree in quantum physics to figure this one out.

With both Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for postseason play, whoever wins this game will have control of the Legends division and a pretty clear path to the Big Ten Championship game.

They both have to play Penn State in Happy Valley, but Wisconsin has to play Ohio State as well, while Indiana's other game is against a hapless Purdue squad.

Simply put, the Badgers cannot afford to lose this game. Establishing the run early, and keeping the pressure on Indiana to stop Ball and White is the key to victory—and to reaching the Big Ten Championship Game.

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