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Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Rebound effort continues with road challenge
Badgers defeat Purdue 37-0 at Camp Randall Oct. 31, 2009.

Rebound effort continues with road challenge

It sounds just like last week: Wisconsin facing a team from Indiana that suffered through a slew of close losses but has been playing well for much of the year.

The No. 24 Badgers (3-2 Big Ten, 6-2 overall) will head to Bloomington to take on a hard-luck Hoosiers squad (1-4, 4-5). Despite Indiana's record, the Badger players and coaches see it as a dangerous opponent.

When the teams played last season, the Hoosiers hung with Wisconsin for a half before quarterback Ben Chappell went down with an injury and the Badgers rolled to a 55-20 win.

""Last year I think we didn't have our minds right, to be honest with you,"" senior linebacker Jaevery McFadden said. ""We thought we could come in there and just roll them over because they're Indiana or whatever. But this year it's a whole different team, and we're a different team too. We definitely respect our opponent, no matter who they are, and we're definitely going to respect Indiana.""

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This Hoosier team is coming off a loss to Iowa in which it led by 10 at the end of the third quarter. Including that game, they have suffered three close defeats in Big Ten play. The Indiana offense features many different looks, including spread and wildcat formations.

Despite its statistics (ninth in Big Ten in scoring and 10th in yards allowed), the unit is capable of some explosive plays.

""They do a lot of different things,"" safeties coach Randall McCray said. ""If you don't play the rules of your defense, they can get you in trouble and then hit you with big plays. That's what they've done to a lot of teams. A lot of their scores have come on big plays, because they do a great job of ... getting [defenders] out of position and having bad matchups.""

The Indiana offensive line has only allowed 10 sacks this season, tied for fewest in the conference, and that has allowed Chappell to flourish. The junior has thrown for 2,054 yards and 10 touchdowns.

His top target, sophomore Tandon Doss, has quietly become one of the most productive in the Big Ten with 751 yards and 100-yard games against Michigan and Illinois.  

""He got a lot of shake and bake in his game, got a lot of attitude on the field, and I respect him a lot, seems like a good football player,"" junior safety Jay Valai, who had 10 tackles against the Hoosiers last season, said.

McCray added that the defense would need to keep Doss hemmed in, away from the perimeter.

The Badgers have been stout both times they faced the wildcat offense against Fresno State and Minnesota, but are still wary of Indiana's version.

""They actually run it pretty well,"" senior safety Chris Maragos said. ""And they've got a receiver/quarterback kind of that's in there, and they run it really well. Like I said, they've got skill positions where they can spread the ball out all different ways, and their wildcat quarterback, he's pretty smart with it, so this is going to be a tough challenge.""

That receiver/quarterback is junior Mitchell Evans, who has only thrown seven passes this year, but has over 130 yards on the ground.

One area where the Badgers have seen great improvement from last season is in penalties committed. Against conference foes, the Badgers have jumped from last in the league in 2008 to first in 2009 in terms of fewest penalty yards taken.

""You play with good technique, you really don't commit too many penalties,"" senior defensive end O'Brien Schofield said. ""We had a couple at the beginning of the year, we [were] able to erase those.""

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