5th Quarter Consensus: Wisconsin should run wild over Indiana

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Will Wisconsin make it nine straight wins over Indiana? Our staff thinks so.

The Predictions

Phil Mitten (9-0, +120): Wisconsin 48, Indiana 24

Jake Harris (9-0, +139): Wisconsin 58, Indiana 20

Mike Fiammetta (8-1, +130): Wisconsin 52, Indiana 28

Andrew Rosin (8-1, +139): Wisconsin 59, Indiana 31

Jake Kocorowski (8-1, +142): Wisconsin 48, Indiana 31

Andy Johnson (8-1, +150): Wisconsin 45, Indiana 21

Louis Bien (8-1, +158): Wisconsin 63, Indiana 35

The Reasoning

One could forgive the Badgers for looking ahead. When the Hoosiers come to Camp Randall Stadium Saturday, they will do so as losers of the last eight games in this series. Wisconsin has won those contests by an average of 35.4 points.

The Badgers are undefeated at home in 2013, but that is nothing new. Since 2004, the team is 60-6 in Madison. Its 24-5 record in the month of November since 2006 is equally impressive. This all suggests an easy victory for the home team Saturday.

But if Wisconsin gets too comfortable and is caught dreaming of its showdown next week with Minnesota in the Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe against an 8-2 Golden Gophers team in Minneapolis, the Hoosiers may finally have enough talent on offense to make things interesting.

Sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld has been a bona fide stud for Indiana this season. He has completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 2,182 yards with 19 touchdowns to go with eight interceptions. Sudfeld put together a solid performance against Illinois last week: 20-of-27 passing for 267 yards and a 3-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in a 52-35 win.

Sudfeld has been sacked 12 times and is not much of a threat to tuck the ball and run. While Wisconsin's secondary is likely to give up a few big plays through the air, expect the Badgers' deep and experienced front seven to contain Sudfeld in the pocket.

The Hoosiers have turned to sophomore quarterback Tre Roberson at times and he poses more of a challenge with his legs. Roberson carried 11 times for 50 yards in a 63-47 loss at Michigan. He has run for seven touchdowns and thrown for 736 yards and nine touchdowns this season. However, he attempted just one pass last week against the Fighting Illini.

Indiana will likely face Wisconsin without star running back Tevin Coleman, who leads the Big Ten in rushing touchdowns with 12, due to an ankle injury. The sophomore from Tinley Park, Ill., averages a ridiculous 7.3 yards per carry and has also caught 19 passes for 193 yards.

Senior Stephen Houston is no slouch, though. He amazingly also averages 7.3 yards per carry but has scored just three times in 2013. Houston is coming off a monster performance against Illinois, in which he ran for 150 yards on just 17 carries and scored two touchdowns.

When Sudfeld drops back to throw, he will look first for prolific junior wide receiver Cody Latimer. The Ohio product has caught 55 balls for 884 yards and eight touchdowns this year, already besting his yardage and catch totals from 2012. He has broken the 100-yard mark in four of the Hoosiers' nine games.

It all adds up to produce an offense that has scored at least 28 points in every contest this season, even against Michigan State's top-ranked defense. While Wisconsin has a strong defense statistically, it has given up more than 30 points three times this year. Do not be surprised to see Indiana light up the scoreboard.

With such a strong offense, though, Indiana still sports a mediocre 4-5 record and must win two of its remaining three games just to become bowl-eligible. This is because the Hoosier defense is truly putrid.

Indiana ranks 120th of 123 FBS teams in total defense. The Hoosiers allow an average of 519.1 yards per game and have given up 46 touchdowns to the opposition this year. They rank 114th in allowing 37.4 points per game.

Particularly troubling as they prepare to face James White, Melvin Gordon and Wisconsin's running game, Indiana allows an average of 217.4 yards per game on the ground and has surrendered 24 rushing touchdowns.

With an 80 percent chance of rain in Saturday's forecast, expect the Badgers to run until the Hoosiers definitively demonstrate an ability to stop it.

Turnovers and big plays in the return game seem to be the only potential ways to trip up Wisconsin on its way to its fifth straight win. Indiana does average 12.56 yards per punt return and has returned a punt for a score this season.

There's just one thing, though -- giving up a game-changing punt return would require the Badgers to actually punt.

Who has the edge?

Offense: Indiana

Defense: Wisconsin

Special teams: Wisconsin

Coaching: Wisconsin

Intangibles: Wisconsin

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