Wisconsin and Indiana are set to clash on a chilly Madison morning this Saturday, and viewers at Camp Randall and on ESPN2 will be treated to two of the conference's best offenses—and one of the conference's best defenses.
Indiana averages 43.1 points per game—10th best in the nation—but cedes 37.4 points per, one of the worst rates in the nation. Similarly, Wisconsin runs up 37.1 points per game, but its defense is fifth-best in the nation, allowing just 15.4 points per game. So when you're looking for the crux of this matchup, it's not exactly hard to find.
Rankings and records: Wisconsin is slowly moving up the BCS standings, clocking in at No. 22 after last week. Seems a little unusual for a team that's so prolific on both sides of the ball and whose only losses are against undefeated Ohio State and at Arizona State in that horrendous debacle, but here we are. Indiana, meanwhile, chimes in at 4-5 and 1-4. Its postseason dreams aren't dead yet, but they could use a major boost this week. Wisconsin holds a 39-18-2 all-team lead in the series, and have won the last eight matchups between the two schools.
Vegas: Wisconsin is favored by 23 points, according to OddsShark.com. That's a lot. The over/under is 70 points. That's also a lot.
Weather: It's Madison in November, so you won't be surprised to hear the high is all of 45 degrees. Fog may loom early, clouds should stick around all game long.
Three names to know
Wisconsin's most visible tailback this season is Melvin Gordon III, who has 143 rushes for 1,160 yards (second best in the Big Ten behind only Nebraksa's Ameer Abdullah, at 1,213 yards) and 11 touchdowns. Gordon may be the fastest tailback in the Big Ten, and he's frequently used on fly sweeps to devastating effect against slower defenses, which helps build up his gaudy 8.3 yards per carry average.
Wisconsin's most productive tailback, however, is James White. White has 150 rushes on the year and 951 yards (fourth-best in the conference) to go along with 11 rushing touchdowns of his own. However, White's versatility makes him an asset in the passing game, and his 29 catches for 255 yards and two more scores push him ahead of Gordon in yards from scrimmage and total touchdowns.
Indiana's main man on the ground is Tevin Coleman, who supplanted former thousand-yard rusher Stephen Houston in the Hoosier backfield and who's on pace to crack the millennium mark himself this year. Coleman's actually the Big Ten leader in rushing touchdowns (take that, Gordon and White) with 12 thus far, and he's got 958 yards rushing on a ridiculous 7.3 yards per carry. Don't worry about Houston though, who is at 536 yards himself.
Two things at stake
For Wisconsin, this game is an opportunity to beat up on another Big Ten school and run its record to 8-2, and while the notion of a division championship is probably a bridge too far (Ohio State would have to go 1-2 against Illinois, Indiana and Michigan), there's still the outside shot at a BCS at-large bid. A nice consolation would be a 10-win regular season in Gary Andersen's first year at the helm, and the Badgers are on pace for that now.
As for Indiana, a win would let the BIg Ten's craziest team could do something it's only done once in the past two decades; go to a bowl game. Or at least be in much better position... one more win would still have to come, and Purdue's still on the schedule, so... there's that sixth win. At any rate, it would be Kevin Wilson's biggest win at the helm of the Hoosiers by far, and official notice to the rest of the conference that Indiana's not a pushover anymore.
How to witness
TV: Kickoff is at 12:00 ET (11:00 local) and it's televised on ESPN2. On the call will be Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway and Paul Carcaterra.
Online streaming: As with all games on the ESPN family of networks, the game will be on ESPN3.com. Xfinity subscribers can watch the game here.
For more on the Badgers, read Wisconsin community Bucky's Fifth Quarter, especially their feature on the Badgers' offensive line. For more on the Hoosiers, read the Crimson Quarry. For all things Big Ten, read Off Tackle Empire.