Indiana vs. Wisconsin: 10 Things We Learned in Badgers' Win
Wisconsin is keeping its BCS bowl hopes alive with a monstrous victory over Indiana. Its 51-3 win is its biggest victory of the year against a FBS-level squad. With just Minnesota and Penn State left on the schedule, Wisconsin should be able to finish the season 10-2.
While a goal of a BCS bowl game this year may not be reached, Wisconsin can still learn a couple things for future seasons from today's game. Follow along for 10 things that we learned here in Wisconsin's victory over Indiana.
Joel Stave Is a Game Manager in Poor Weather
Normally, poor quarterbacks are completely useless in tough weather, and bad ones will throw an interception or two and fumble the ball a couple of times. Joel Stave was a game manager in the harsh weather at Camp Randall Stadium against Indiana.
While he was just 7-of-15 (46.7 percent) for 122 yards, his passes all came at times when the offense needed just enough room to run again. His three connections to tight end Jacob Pedersen all came on play-action passes at times when Indiana had eight men in the box.
James White Is Extremely Underrated
James White is going to be a great running back at the next level. He's a 5'11", 197-pound back who may not look to have a ton of breakaway speed. His 20 rushes for 205 yards against Indiana led to just one touchdown, and he was able to grind down the Indiana defense for his teammates.
He also set the pace for the entire game on offense with a 93-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage. White has all the tools a team will look for in a running back when he goes into the draft—balance, vision, agility—and there's no reason as to why he won't be able to go in the second day of the draft.
Melvin Gordon Is Definitely One of the Top Running Backs in the Country
For as good as James White is, Melvin Gordon is just plain better. And that's tough to believe, but Gordon is a legitimate first-round talent long term. His 6'1", 203-pound frame will draw comparisons to Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy.
Gordon's all-around talent will need to improve—specifically his pass-catching ability—but he has the vision that few running backs even in the NFL have. And it's not just a product of the scheme, because the zone-blocking scheme is all about finding the right hole to run through with proper vision, then cutting and going.
The Future Is Bright with Corey Clement
James White is a senior and Melvin Gordon is draft eligible and could leave at any time. However, even if they are both lost this offseason, the future is bright for the Wisconsin rushing attack. The Badgers have a stable of backs that include the uber-talented Corey Clement.
Clement showed on his 11 carries versus Indiana that he is more than ready for a starter's load in the Big Ten. He was able to gain 108 yards and two touchdowns using his powerful frame and LaDainian Tomlinson-esque cuts. He will be a ton of fun to watch over the next few years.
Jared Abbrederis Can Contribute as a Big-Play Ball-Carrier
Jared Abbrederis is arguably the best deep threat at wide receiver in all of the Big Ten. When the deep passing attack couldn't connect against Indiana, the Badgers had to find some way to get the ball to Abbrederis. So what did they do?
They called reverses and jet sweeps. On his three rushing plays, Abbrederis was able to gain a massive 86 yards and even scored two touchdowns. His talent just screams, "Make sure you get me the ball!" So Wisconsin made sure he got the ball in his hands at least three times versus Indiana.
Derek Watt Is a Great, Underappreciated Fullback
Derek Watt is an extremely underappreciated player. And it's not just because he plays fullback. He's a huge reason why the Wisconsin rushing attack was able to gain 557 yards and score six touchdowns on its 48 designed runs against Indiana.
He is one of the few blocking fullbacks who can seal off multiple linebackers on the same play from getting anywhere near his running backs. He's also one of the few fullbacks who can swing out for a pass and gain some yardage on it.
Had the one target he got versus Indiana not been tipped, Watt could have scored a touchdown on a wheel route. Watt's a legitimate NFL talent at fullback and is a better blocker than Bradie Ewing was when he was at Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Has the Best Run-Blocking Offensive Line in College Football
Yes, Indiana has a horrible run defense that has allowed 217 yards per game this season going into the Wisconsin game. But Wisconsin could run for over 300 yards on anyone if its offensive line just overpowers them like they overpowered Indiana.
The Badgers had 554 yards on 50 carries. That's insanity. They were able to have a half-dozen runs of 30-or-more yards because the offensive line just dominated Indiana's defense. With road-graders like what Wisconsin has, who needs to throw the ball?
Winning the Turnover Battle Early Is Vital for Wisconsin
Games are all about this invisible force we like to refer to called "momentum." By creating two turnovers and stopping two drives at the beginning on the game, Wisconsin's defense showed that they could control the momentum early.
However, the way momentum truly swings towards one team is when they can take turnovers and exchange them for points. Wisconsin was like that kid with 10,000 tickets at a Chuck-E-Cheese because it got 20 points off of four scores from the first four drives. This stunned Indiana and turned all momentum to Wisconsin.
Wisconsin's Defense Can Shut Down a High-Powered, Fast-Paced Offense
Indiana had a top-10 scoring offense coming into the Wisconsin game. The Badgers having none of it. They didn't fall for any of the no-huddle tricks, nor did they fall for the supposed mismatches that Indiana was supposedly able to exploit—Indiana's tall receivers and Nate Sudfeld just being a few of them.
Instead, the Badgers were able to hold a team that had almost 5,000 yards in nine games to gain just 224 yards. They held a team that scored an average of 43.1 points per game and whose lowest total of the season was 28 points to just three.
Wisconsin proved it has a talented defense with ability to be dominant. It's just a shame that it couldn't get the same kind of results against Ohio State.
Harsh Elements Don't Phase This Wisconsin Team
Indiana looked lost in the cold rain and windy conditions of Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin, however, felt right at home. It looked to enjoy the conditions that were much more conducive for its powerful rushing attack.
The defense also had a field day with the weather. Without having to worry about on-target passes all game, the defense could jump routes and create fumbles that would set back Indiana. It also fed off of Indiana's own mistakes.
In the weather that Indiana and Wisconsin experienced, no one could beat the Badgers. They are just built for the elements, as it just doesn't even phase them for it to be cold and rainy.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
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