Coming off its most complete team performance and most impressive win of the season a week ago against Purdue, the Wisconsin football team had to squeak out a victory against Indiana Saturday. Although the running attack for the Badgers was dominant throughout, Wisconsin had trouble at times on defense, especially containing big plays.
Head coach Bret Bielema acknowledged his team was aware of its sloppy performance against the Hoosiers.
""They had to watch a game [on film that] they knew they weren't clean at,"" Bielema said.
Still, despite the average overall team performance, many Badgers turned in their best performances of the season, and for some, their careers.
Team Offensive Player of the Game honors went to sophomore wide receiver Nick Toon.
For the first time in his career, Toon surpassed 100 receiving yards in a game, collecting 123 on five receptions.
Toon leads the Badgers in receptions with 37 and receiving yards with 535 on the year.
Perhaps Toon's most important reception of the season thus far came with just over two minutes left against Indiana with the Badgers needing a first down. His 17-yard reception allowed Wisconsin to run down the clock and seal the victory.
""Nick Toon probably played his most complete game since becoming a Badger,"" Bielema said.
Additionally, freshman linebacker Chris Borland continued to impress Bielema and was named the team's Defensive Player of the Week after his stellar performance Saturday.
Just a week after being awarded Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, Borland harassed the Indiana offense throughout the game, collecting one tackle for a loss, and recording his first career interception.
Bielema also addressed the issue of the battered sophomore running back John Clay. Clay suffered a minor concussion, and was sick to his stomach during Saturday's contest.
Despite his limited playing time, however, Clay managed to rush for 134 yards and one touchdown against Indiana. Clay currently leads the Big Ten in rushing yards with 973 and rushing touchdowns with 11.
Bielema expects Clay to return to practice Tuesday and noted that leaving the running back out for the majority of the game against Indiana was mostly precautionary.
""If we had to, he probably could have played the second half,"" Bielema said.
This Saturday, Wisconsin will play its final home game of the season against the ever-threatening Michigan Wolverines.
Michigan enters this week's contest just 1-5 in the Big Ten, but Bielema admitted this game has been on the Badgers' radar since their loss to the Wolverines last season.
The game will also mark Senior Day for the Badgers as they honor their 16 seniors.
Always an emotional event, this senior class is particularly meaningful to Bielema, as many of the graduating seniors were freshmen when Bielema took over the team in 2006.
Although his affection for this class is evident, Bielema sees a bright future for his team after these players move on.
""Tradition never graduates, only seniors,"" Bielema said.