The Monday After: Indiana vs. Wisconsin

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

James White and the Badgers torched Indiana, which should not be allowed to play Wisconsin again until the Hoosiers put together a defense that graduates from the Pop Warner level. The Battle for the Axe is up next.

We're going to keep this post short and sweet because let's be honest, Saturday's game against Indiana was a flat-out joke.

Seriously, though. Wisconsin has now won nine consecutive meetings with the Hoosiers -- each one of them in blowout fashion -- and until Indiana gets any semblance of a defense, I don't think this game should even be played in the years ahead.

The weather sucked Saturday and maybe that played a factor in the Hoosiers' pitiful performance, but they didn't even get off the bus. I was expecting a fairly easy win for UW, but not utter domination.

Did we learn anything new on Saturday? No. Did anybody truly impress or underwhelm? No. The Badgers whooped up on a far inferior opponent just like they should have. Therefore, I'm electing to shy away from breaking down our likes and dislikes as we have all previous weeks.

I suppose I do have a few thoughts and need to preview the Gophers a bit, so here is your brief Monday-after diagnosis.

What we liked

My favorite aspect of Saturday's game against Indiana was that the fly-sweep running attack has been brought back into the fold -- only it was Jared Abbrederis doing the running. Teams were beginning to key in on Melvin Gordon and his homerun-hitting capabilities with that play, but rather than abandon it completely, offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig has decided to vary things up a bit.

Abby carried it three times for 86 yards, and I only wish he'd been allowed to tote the rock once more so that Wisconsin could have put a fourth rusher into the hundred-plus-yards category.

Congrats to James White on his record-breaking 93-yard score to commence Saturday's onslaught. White is really back in a groove that he had a couple years ago.

Also, Corey Clement is a grown man. My goodness is that kid going to be good in the years ahead. Wisconsin's third tailback was just named the Big Ten's Freshman of the Week for the second time this season, and Clement would be starting on likely more than half of the other Big Ten teams. That's ridiculous.

Finally, the 3-4 defense is awesome. Indiana supposedly had a high-powered attack heading into Saturday's contest. The Badgers made the Hoosiers' O seem like a floundering Pop Warner team.

What needs to improve

Special teams gets the nod here for me. As much as the offense and defense both excelled Saturday, you've got to look at an area that is neither great nor terrible.

I'm more than pleased with how Jack Russell has stepped in and continues to drill 30- to 40-yard field goals with consistency, but let's see what happens when there is some pressure riding on his right foot.

Mostly. I knock the special teams unit because Kenzel Doe just isn't a good football player. For a guy with his athleticism, he really doesn't do much of anything. Doe's botched punt on the fair catch in the first half forced the coaching staff to put Abby in for punt returning duties, and as consistent as Abby has always been in that area, I don't like the idea of Wisconsin's only true outside threat being jeopardized on the special teams unit.

We have all seen that throughout his career, Abby has shown some frailty, and as the season winds down, the Badgers can ill-afford to lose him with bowl season approaching.

Next up

The now ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers. Hard to believe it, but the Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe will feature two teams ranked in the top 25 of the BCS standings.

A win Saturday in the Twin Cities would make it a 10th consecutive victory in this rivalry series for Wisconsin, but I don't think it is going to be easy.

It's pretty remarkable how Minnesota has rallied around the health problems of head coach Jerry Kill, and you know that the Gophers will be hungry to end Wisconsin's nine-game winning streak against them on their home turf.

After Minnesota was blown out on the road at Michigan to drop to 4-2 on the season, I thought the Gophers had officially hit that mid-season tailspin we've seen from them the past few seasons. But this year's squad clearly has a stronger inner fortitude, and though they're the Badgers' biggest rival, it is good to see the Minnesota program back on solid ground.

Plus, if Wisconsin can walk away with a ‘W,' the Badgers might actually move up in the polls and draw at least a little respect nationally.

Looking at the current BCS rankings, Wisconsin needs to move up five spots over the next two weeks to be eligible for a BCS at-large selection, and a win over a fellow top-25 team would bump them up a couple spots at least I would think.

Prediction: It will be a struggle at times, but if the Badgers can get past an early score from Minnesota, then I think UW ends up rolling.

I anticipate the Gophers coming out of the gates Saturday like there is no tomorrow, but Wisconsin's just too steady, especially on the ground. Abby breaks it open in the third quarter with a fly-sweep touchdown run, and the Badgers move to 9-2 with a 38-21 win.

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