Written By Sammy Jacobs (@sammyj108)
The Hoosiers need to pull an upset in the next two weeks in order to have a shot at a sixth win against Purdue on the final weekend of the season. Up first for the Hoosiers are the Wisconsin Badgers, who have dominated the Hoosiers since 2002. It just hasn’t been bad defense that has hurt Indiana. The offense has just 21 points in the two losses in the Kevin Wilson era. New year. New team. Let’s get down to business and look at the three keys for the Hoosiers offense to shock the world and upset the Badgers in Madison on Saturday.
1. Have Consistency on Offense- So far this season it seems it as been boom or bust for the Hoosiers. Either they score a touchdown in less than two minutes or have to punt after three plays. Indiana doesn’t need to change their offensive philosophy because it clearly is working, but they do have to become more consistent. The Hoosiers nearly blew the game against Illinois and fell behind 35-13 to Minnesota because the offense goes through prolonged stretches where they can’t pick up a first down. The Hoosiers are not going to score every time down the field against a stout Wisconsin defense, probably the second best unit they have faced this season, but Indiana needs to limit the quick three and outs. Even a few first downs on a drive that ends in a punt can flip field position and give the defense a little bit more margin for error.
2. Put Points up Early- While this goes along with the first point, any time a team is looking to score an upset on the road, in an environment like Camp Randall Stadium, getting the early score can be a huge boost. The Hoosiers have to prove this isn’t the same team that Wisconsin put 83 up on in 2010 or the team that fell flat in last year’s match-up falling 62-14. A message has to be sent that they are here to play well and win this game. Potentially losing Tevin Coleman for the game is going to be a factor as he has been a homerun threat all year, but Stephen Houston is a very capable back who is also coming off back-to-back 100-yard games. Indiana will need some sort of a run threat to keep the Badgers from keying on the passing game. Jumping out to a big lead early could force the Badgers to throw the ball and rely on the unproven arm of Joel Stave. If the Hoosiers fall into a cold spell on offense, it could get ugly.
3. Start Sudfeld, Sprinkle in Roberson- After 11 weeks of changing my mind and flip-flopping between quarterbacks, I believe that the Hoosiers should start Sudfeld and mix in Tre Roberson as a change of pace. Too often this season the Hoosiers have been snake bitten by slow starts from the quarterback. Points have been left on the field in games against Minnesota, Navy, and Michigan State. While Sudfeld has not been great starting in some games, see Michigan and Michigan State, he has led early scoring drives on the road. The Hoosiers need a fast start and Sudfeld can provide that. Roberson, on the other hand has been very solid coming off the bench, especially in the Michigan and Penn State games. He will and should be used in certain situations at Wisconsin. Also, Sudfeld has not proven that he can handle the hostile environment of a Big Ten game yet. He struggled on the road at Michigan State and Michigan, where he looked rattled by the crowd noise. Roberson does a fine job at handling that pressure so far.
It will not be an easy road on Saturday for the Hoosiers, but stranger things have happened, and Indiana is due for one of these upset bids to finally come to fruition. The Hoosiers will need a little bit of luck, a lot more consistency, and probably even more points if they want to stun the Badgers in Madison.