Creature vs Creature Indiana vs. Wisconsin: Hoosiers' Season Hangs on a Thread
If there ever was a game the Indiana Hoosiers truly needed to win, this is it.
The Hoosiers come into this game with a 4-5 record and 1-4 record in the Big 10, a record that could have been 7-2 had the Hoosiers not squandered leads in the fourth quarter.
For Hoosier fans, the saying, "It ain't over till its over," is hitting home hard.
Last week Indiana led Iowa 21-7 at halftime in Iowa City, and even into the fourth quarter the Hoosiers were up 24-21. But huge defensive mistakes cost them, and Iowa managed to score four touchdowns to blowout the Hoosiers and win 42-24.
And just the week before at Northwestern, after being up 28-3 in the second quarter and 28-17 at halftime, the Hoosiers were unable to put any points on the board, and fell to the Wildcats at the death, 29-28.
Luckily for IU, playing in front of a home crowd has been a blessing, and they walk into this weekend's game vs No. 21 Wisconsin with a 3-1 record at Memorial Stadium.
For Wisconsin, this is just another game to prove to the country that they are a legitimate Big 10 team, and to show all the naysayers at the beginning of the season that they were wrong.
Wisconsin brings in one of the nations best running backs in sophomore John Clay, who will be running behind a behemoth offensive line, who are all at least 6-foot-4-inches and over 315 pounds. On the season, Clay has 839 yards on 177 attempts and ten touchdowns.
The Badger defense is also one of the best in the Big 10, with freshman sensation LB Chris Borland combining with senior leaders DE O'Brien Schofield and S Chris Maragos. Wisconsin leads the Big 10 in rushing defense, opponents' third down conversion percentage, and they are second in total defense.
The Hoosiers will have to play well in this game from start to finish, something they have struggled with all season long.
On offense, senior quarterback Ben Chappell must step up and be able to find his wide receivers while he is being rushed. Chappell has to be able to get the ball into either sophomore wide receivers' Tandon Doss or Demarlo Belcher's hands.
Another key aspect of our offense that needs to show up will be the running game. In the last two games, our run game has been almost non existent, and it has led to defenses waiting for the pass and expecting it every time.
Even if Darius Willis isn't able to run for 100 yards Saturday, if he can at least make the defense respect the run a little, it will give the Hoosier wideouts more room to maneuver and make plays.
On the defensive side of the ball, seniors Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton will have to get their hands dirty to get through this big and strong Badger offensive line. If they are successful at getting to Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien there is a very good chance that he will make a poor throw, and someone on the defense will have a chance to take advantage.
Also, senior Nick Polk returns from injury to start again at safety, which should help soften the loss of senior cornerback Ray Fisher, who injured his knee in last week's game against Iowa.
The IU linebackers must pay alot of attention to John Clay, who can run inside the tackles and around him. There must be someone watching him all game. For senior linebacker Matt Mayberry, communication will be key.
Indiana's season hangs by a thread, and with a win this weekend, they have a chance to salvage their season and make it to a bowl game. It is going to be a raucous atmosphere in "The Rock" and the Hoosier football team should play better at home.
However, history and current play has shown that the Badgers are a better team, and will most likely, barring anything crazy, win this game.
Wisconsin wins 28-21
Check out Carl Stine's take on the game here.
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