November is here and things are getting real for both the Indiana Hoosiers and Wisconsin Badgers. Indiana enters the final month of the season somehow still searching for its first Big Ten win, while Wisconsin is looking to keep the nation’s longest win streak alive.
With Indiana’s high-powered offense and Wisconsin’s stout defense, we are likely to get one of the more intriguing matchups of the weekend. But, beyond the surface this game has a lot to really be excited about.
We continue to break down the things you need to know heading in to each week, so take in the 10 things to know about the Badgers visit to Bloomington to take on the Hoosiers.
1: Wisconsin is the only unbeaten team in the Big Ten
After a crazy set of results last weekend, including Ohio State not leading Penn State until its last possession of the game, the Badgers now sit as the only undefeated team this season in the Big Ten. Of course, Ohio State is unbeaten in Big Ten play, but have a loss to Oklahoma on its record. Despite the large lead in the West division, the Badgers will not be able to clinch the West division title until next week should it win this week as two-loss teams Northwestern and Nebraska meet up. Wisconsin would clinch with wins against Indiana and Iowa regardless of what happens around them the next two weeks.
2: Indiana’s defense has just two interceptions on the season
If there has been a weak point for Badgers sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook this season it has been in the bad interception department. However, the Hoosiers have not had much success trying to take the ball away in the pass game coming in to this one. Let’s see if Hornibrook can avoid the bad turnover and keep off the interception list for the first time since the BYU game back in September. Since then, he has thrown seven of his eight interceptions against Big Ten play.
3: Wisconsin is averaging 3.4 sacks per game by its defense
One of the most untold stories of the 2017 season has been the Badgers ability to get after the quarterback, but do so in multiple ways. UW is averaging a full sack per game better this year than last (2.4) and ranks tied for first in the Big Ten with Michigan as well as good enough for fifth in the nation. Indiana’s pass protection hasn’t been great, allowing 20 sacks so far this season (2.5) per game to rank eighth in the B1G.
4: That is the number of fumbles recovered this season for both Indiana and Wisconsin in 2017
Turnovers are an important stat to watch on any given Saturday, and these two teams come in with very different turnover margins. Wisconsin ranks fifth in the Big Ten with a turnover margin of +2, while Indiana sits dead last with a turnover margin of -8. Hidden in those stats are two teams who have struggled to create fumbles, as both have picked up just four on the year, a number good enough for third from the bottom in the Big Ten. Wisconsin does hold a massive advantage in interceptions, with a league-leading 12 so far this year.
5: Wisconsin is one of just five unbeaten teams left in FBS football and ranks 5th nationally in third-down conversion rate
If you want to win a lot of football games, keeping the chains moving on third downs is helpful. So, it should be no surprise that the Badgers are undefeated and really good at keeping the chains moving too. Wisconsin’s third down conversion rate of 53.5 percent is fifth in the nation, and helps them to join Alabama, Georgia, Miami (FL) and UCF as the only unbeaten teams left in FBS football this season. Indiana’s defense has been really good on third downs this season, ranking third in the Big Ten and allowing teams to convert at 30.4 percent this season. Who wins this clash is likely the winner on Saturday.
6: The Badgers pass defense has allowed just six passing touchdowns in 2017
Wisconsin’s six passing touchdowns allowed is one of the best marks in the country, tying for fourth nationally. It will get severely tested on Saturday against one of the most pass-happy attacks in the Big Ten. Indiana comes in having put up 16 touchdowns on the year. However, it should be noted that IU’s offense were held out of the end zone by Michigan State and limited to one touchdown through the air against both Michigan and Penn State so far. With Peyton Ramsey making just his fourth start of the season, this could be one interesting matchup.
7: Indiana has just seven rushing touchdowns on the year
The Hoosiers of perception have come home to roost this season, as the once stout run game has taken a bit of a back seat in 2017. Transition at running back and along the offensive line have contributed to a group that hasn’t lived up to the usually lofty rushing numbers seen under Kevin Wilson. Instead, Indiana is one of five Big Ten teams who have yet to amass double-digit touchdown totals with jus seven so far. IU also sits 12th in rushing offense at 123.8 yards per game.
8: Wisconsin is just 8th in the Big Ten in punt return average
Special teams have been an interesting adventure for the Wisconsin Badgers this season, and one of the more disappointing areas has been its inability to get much of anything out of the return games. The Badgers are just eighth in the Big Ten in punt return average, gaining a whopping 6.5 yards per return. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Indiana has been deadly in the return game, ranking second in the conference with an average of 14.9 yards per punt return. That number is good for 11th in the country as well.
9: Wisconsin owns a nine-game win streak against the Indiana Hoosiers
The series between these two is the Badgers’ second-longest win streak against any Big Ten team, with the streak against Minnesota coming in ahead of this one. However, these two teams haven’t met since 2013 and Wisconsin hasn’t been to Bloomington, Ind. since 2012 either. So, what does the win streak really mean? Nothing much other than the Badgers are where they were as a program during that era and the Hoosiers are a far more competitive group than they were during this streak.
10: That is the number of touchdowns allowed by the Badgers this season
Wisconsin leads the Big Ten in touchdowns allowed, with just 10 given up so far this season. UW also ranks highly on the national level, with only Alabama’s nine touchdowns allowed ahead of the Badgers nationally. It has led the Badgers to give up just 12.9 points per game, a mark that has them fifth nationally and first in the Big Ten as well. With Indiana’s high-powered offense, it will be interesting to see which side gives in this game.
What the Badgers need to work on in the bye week
Two games, two victories, two shutouts and two record-setting performance. It would be easy to think the 2-0 Wisconsin Badgers football team is riding high in to its early bye week.
But, with the challenge of the Michigan Wolverines just around the corner things are not exactly going to go as planned.
So, with a week off to prepare what are some of the areas of concentration and concern heading in to the matchup with the Wolverines?
I feel like this is a mantra of any team on a bye week, but after only two games it shouldn’t be that bad. But, guess what, Wisconsin is two games in to the season and the injury gods have not been kind to this team.
On Sunday, we learned that starting safety Scott Nelson will miss the rest of the season with a leg injury.
Late last week we knew that five other players were going to miss the Central Michigan game, with two of those being starters on defense in Bryson Williams and Izayah Green-May.
Now luckily, the depth of this team showed up as true freshman Keeanu Benton (1 TFL) played well in place of Williams and Noah Burks (2 tackles, 1 TFL and 1 pass break up) made it seem like there was nothing missing at outside linebacker.
But, there’s no question that playing with a full group of players against Michigan will be advantageous. Let’s see if the Badgers can get Williams and Green-May healthy and my guess is that they will be able to do just that with nearly three weeks of treatment and testing.
One of the things that has been clear so far about this team is that they have been playing with a lot of emotion and edge to them. It’s almost as if they spent an entire offseason stewing over a less-than-stellar performance in 2018 and are bound and determined to not let that happen again.
Whatever was bottled up in the offseason was certainly unleashed in the first two weeks of the season. Can UW find a way to continue to play with that edge and fire now that they have no game this week?
Sometimes the bye week can mess with a team, especially one that is rolling like the Badgers are. But, I have a distinct feeling that motivation and focus are not going to waver at all with this coaching staff in place.
Wisconsin also has the advantage of being the underdog in the matchup with Michigan (at least on paper it will) and has a ton of hungry young players looking to make a name for themselves.
What better way to do that than against Michigan with the whole college football world watching you?
This idea of staying hungry doesn’t worry me in the least, but it would be something to watch coming out of the gate against Michigan. If the Badgers look flat or out of sorts, I’d be worried. If not, then look for Michigan to be in some serious trouble on Sept. 21.
Early on this season, we’ve already seen a lot of Jonathan Taylor the running back, but we’ve also seen a lot of JT23 the receiving back and it has produced glorious results.
Even better is the fact that the Badgers coaching staff hasn’t had to get exotic with the play calling early on this season either. There’s been few sightings of Aron Cruickshank end arounds or double running back sets or anything crazy.
Wisconsin has lined up, punched the opposing defense in the mouth up front and done the basics needed to put points on the board.
It will be interesting to see what wrinkles will be added with the extra time and the opponent at hand. Will the Badgers break out a few things that Michigan won’t be ready for or will they stick to the tried and true and just see what happens?
If there’s one thing we know about Michigan’s defense is that it is nearly the Badgers equal in aggressiveness. Through two games the Badgers have allowed four sacks on the quarterback.
It may not seem alarming, but last season, UW allowed a total of 24 through 13 games for an average of 1.85 per game and that was a bit of a problem in bigger games. Furthermore, 12 of the 24 sacks came in Wisconsin’s five losses last year.
The good news seems to be that UW is going to get some help for the quarterback spot in avoiding some of those sacks this year. Jack Coan may not be a world-record sprinter, but he has shown to be more comfortable stepping up in the pocket and taking off if needed.
But, the Badgers were not really tested so far in terms of overall talent and did give up three sacks against USF in the opener. On the flip side, the offensive line looked much better against CMU and only one sack happened on the day.
Does that indicate improvement or just how bad the Chippewas were? With an extra week to work on things, lets see how the Badgers offensive line works through any potential issues and any adjustments that may be needed.
Sunday Morning Hangover: What to make of Coan’s confident start
By now, Jack Coan isn’t a total newcomer to the starting quarterback role for the Wisconsin Badgers. But, on Saturday he was making his first career start inside Camp Randall Stadium.
All five of his previous starts would come on the road or in a bowl game.
So, how did Coan handle the home crowd and it being a season opener at Camp Randall nonetheless? Judging by his record-setting numbers it was safe to say it was home, sweet home for the junior quarterback.
After passing for over 200 yards for the first time in his career last week against USF, Coan set personal records for passing attempts, completions, yards and touchdown passes in a single game.
It’s hard to get much better than that.
On the day, Coan would go 26 of 33 for 363 yards and 3 touchdowns. Those numbers were the catalyst to the Badgers 61-0 blanking of the visiting Central Michigan Chippewas.
His 363 yards were the fifth best in a single game by any Badgers quarterback. Coan also became just the 11th Badgers QB to throw for 300 or more yards in a game.
Additionally, his 276 yards in the first half were the most ever by any Badgers quarterback in a single half.
That’s some historic territory for anyone to reach.
However, after sleeping on it, I am still left wondering if this is a sign of things to come or a blip on the radar and we’ll never see this again.
Maybe it’s because I can still remember being there in person to witness Coan fumble and bumble his way to a loss at Northwestern last year.
Maybe that’s the Hornibrook affect in me too? After all, we got totally burned by thinking Hornibrook had turned a corner with his great performance in the bowl win over Miami two years ago.
Instead, Hornibrook reverted right back to the inconsistent and at times terrible version that his more extensive body of work told us was likely who he was.
But, here’s why I think we aren’t seeing a blip on the radar with Coan. It’s his confidence and the fact that we’ve seen him go out and do better each and every week he’s been a starter.
We are seeing progress, which we never really did with Hornibrook under center. If you can’t see that Coan is improving, then you aren’t paying attention.
Last week, despite the first ever 200-yard day for Coan, a lot of attention was paid to the missed wide open receivers on vertical routes. What did Coan do about it? He went out this week and showed he could confidently and accurately hit those deep balls.
“I think it’s important, and certainly we’ve got to be able to — we thought coming into the year we’ve got to do a better job of attacking the whole field, and so when you can do that, it’s good, but I think guys have had confidence in it,” said head coach Paul Chryst after the CMU win.
“I know last week we were 0-2 for those “chunk” plays, but he wouldn’t have cut ’em loose today if he didn’t have confidence in it. So I don’t know that doing it in a game makes you more confident, but it was good to see. It’s nice to be able to hit a couple of those, obviously.”
Additionally, Coan’s relationship early on this season with Quintez Cephus has been something special to watch. With virtually no playing time and no extensive practice time together, the duo has seemed totally in sync to start the season.
Cephus has nine receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns through two games. He also is averaging 84.5 yards per game, good for fifth in the Big Ten in this early season.
Just to put the difference between Coan and Honribrook in to some perspective for you. Through two games last year, the Badgers had just 26 receptions as a team. This year, UW already has 50.
Wisconsin also has a total of 16 passes for 15 or more yards on the season. That is a quarter of what the Badgers had (64) all of last year and we’re only two games in to the season.
A.J. Taylor (8), Danny Davis (6), Kendric Pryor (6) and Jake Ferguson (6) have all had major impacts in the pass game too.
It means a diverse and talented group is producing quickly this season.
Of course, the challenge of Michigan’s defense awaits the Badgers offense and it certainly will be a step up in competition from the likes of USF and Central Michigan.
However, the Wolverines also won’t be seeing the same old Wisconsin offense they did for the past few years either.
What Coan has brought to the table through two weeks of play should make Michigan think twice about stacking the box against the run all game long.
Wisconsin finally has an outwardly confident quarterback and it feels so very good.
WATCH: Recap of Badgers 61-0 victory over Central Michigan
If you were to draw up a perfect game, well, it would be hard to top what the Wisconsin Badgers put on film on Saturday against the Central Michigan Chippewas.
UW ran, passed and dominated on defense en route to a 61-0 win. What should we take away from this game? What were the highlight moments?
Well of course, Jonathan Taylor scoring four touchdowns in back-to-back games was impressive. But, let our Publisher, Andrew Coppens, get in to the detail in this week’s talkinBadgers recap.
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Wisconsin Badgers vs. Central Michigan Chippewas: Preview, Predictions and Prognostications
We’re back with more in our video work for the Badgers 2019 season. As per usual, our Publisher, Andrew Coppens, is here to give you the lowdown on the matchup between the Wisconsin Badgers and Central Michigan Chippewas.
That means, key players to watch, key stats to keep an eye on and the weekly prediction.
He is 1-0 after nearly nailing the full score last week, so what does this matchup look like?
Let’s get in to the video.
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