In 2010, the Hoosiers’ road trip to Madison ended in an 83-20 beating of historical proportions. This is the game most who follow Indiana football (all five of us!) point to as the reason Bill Lynch was fired at season’s end, despite beating rival Purdue in overtime. I maintain it was Lynch’s tenure in general that got him fired, but I guess we can point to a specific game or two.
The good news for new coach Kevin Wilson is that he probably won’t be fired no matter how bad the Hoosiers’ record is in 2011 or how badly Wisconsin beats Indiana Saturday. Let’s face it, Bill Lynch wouldn’t have done any better. Good guy, though.
By the way, isn’t “good guy, though” one of the more backhanded compliments some one can say? It always come right after you say something impossibly negative about some one’s abilities at something, such as coaching football. Bill Lynch was a crap football coach at IU and possibly a sleeper agent for the KGB. Good guy, though.
So even though this game won’t doom Kevin Wilson at Indiana, it doesn’t mean Indiana won’t be beaten very, very badly on the road again. In fact, this year’s Indiana team is almost definitely worse than last year’s 5-7 outfit. At least that team beat Purdue. No way that happens this year.
Some may actually be surprised that Indiana doesn’t lose every game they play 83-20, and this is especially true this year. They’re bad, I tell you! Bad!
So here (after the jump) is a list of all the reasons Indiana should scream “Not in the face!” just after kickoff:
Montee Ball and James White
In the 2011 game, these two combined for 41 carries for 311 yards and 5 touchdowns. It might be worse this year since Indiana is allowing 210 rushing yards per game, and they have only played one good rushing team (Illinois) this year. The Hoosier’s coaches also have been rotating their defensive lineup of late, looking for guys who will actually make plays and, you know, put forth the effort they’re looking for. This is bad. Like, really bad. I wonder if Mike Stoops is available.
In last year’s game, Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien was 15/18 for 181 yards and three touchdowns before being pulled because Wisconsin was up by so much. Wilson, the NC State transfer, is mounting what passes for a Heisman campaign for a Wisconsin quarterback. He’s completing over 70% of his passes, only has one interception and is the team’s third-leading rusher as well.
Ironically, Indiana’s pass defense is actually middling in terms of yards per game (211.5) because so many teams have found there’s no reason to throw the ball on Indiana in the first place. But if Wisconsin gets bored of running all over Indiana, Wilson might get a play or three to put on his Heisman reel.
The Indiana Locker Room
Rumor has it, according to the ESPN preview anyway, that last season’s score is all over the Indiana locker room this week as a reminder. Something like a “Those who stay will most likely be killed by a Wisconsin offensive lineman,” I guess.
Point is, if I know this, then Brett Bielema knows this, so it’s more likely Wisconsin is going to take this game seriously. Which means (a) Ball, White, and Wilson will stay in longer along with (b) the defensive starters getting more free shots at Indiana quarterbacks who are compelled to throw by a huge deficit and therefore (c) further embarrassment.
Indiana ranks 92nd in rushing yards, 82nd in total yards, and 91st in points scored. Combine this with Wilson’s hurry-up attack (!) and you’ve got a team that just can’t hold onto the ball long enough to let their defense rest and keep Wisconsin’s offense off the field. They’re actually a respectable 44th in passing yards, but that’s clearly because they can’t run the ball.
IU has also rotated three quarterbacks this year, two of whom are dinged by injuries. Starter Edward Wright-Baker didn’t play against Illinois last week due to injury, leaving backup Dusty Kiel to get his own ankle injury, thus sapping what little zip on his throws that he had to begin with. That means true freshman Tre Roberson had to play more than ever and probably will do so again this week. Frankly, Roberson is the only IU quarterback who has shown flashes of anything when he’s in. Wright-Baker makes the offense a turnover machine and Kiel makes them a punt machine. Roberson is just plain inexperienced. None of those options end well for Indiana.
So please, Wisconsin, just not in the face.