The California kid gets his first career start in the cold against one of the nation’s top defenses.
Indiana still has its eyes on some major prizes, but they will give the ball to quarterback Jack Tuttle for his first college football rodeo.
The stakes are high for Indiana, which still has an outside shot at the Big Ten title game and the College Football Playoff. The Hoosiers have been up to the task against traditional powers Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State, but the Badgers are the best of that bunch in 2020.
It’s a top-20 matchup in Madison, as the Hoosiers look to end a 10-game losing streak to Wisconsin.
No. 10/11 INDIANA (5-1) at No. 18/19 WISCONSIN (2-1)
- Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wisconsin
- Television: ABC (Stream via WatchESPN.com and the ESPN mobile app (iOS/Android)
- Series: Wisconsin leads the series 41-18-2 (Badgers won last meeting 45-17 in 2017; last IU win — 2002)
- Odds: Wisconsin is a 13.5 point favorite
- Weather at kickoff: 36 degrees, partly cloudy, wind 2 mph, 0% chance of precipitation.
Tom Allen is 23-21 and now in his fourth full season as the head coach at Indiana.
Paul Chryst is 54-17 (.761) in his sixth season at Wisconsin. Chryst is the third coach in modern B1G history to win 50 games in his first five years. He is 73-36 (.670) in his ninth overall campaign (Pitt, 2012-14).
TALE OF THE TAPE
BTN GAME PREVIEW
THE COMPLETE BIG TEN WEEK 7 SLATE
|Piscataway, N.J. (Conf.)||TV: FS1 Stats Radio: WCTC 1450-AM, WOR 710-AM, WENJ 97.3-FM, XM 207, Sirius 136 Video|
|West Lafayette, Ind. (Conf.)||TV: BTN Stats Radio: Husker Sports Network Video|
|East Lansing, MI (Conf.)||TV: ABC Stats Radio: TCF Bank Spartan Media Network Video|
|Champaign, IL (Conf.)||TV: FS1 Stats Radio: Busey Bank Illini Sports Network Video|
|Madison, WI (Conf.)||TV: ABC Stats Radio: Badger Sports Network Video|
|Ann Arbor, Mich. (Conf.)|
WHEN WISCONSIN HAS THE FOOTBALL
If Indiana has a path to slowing down Wisconsin, it would seem to involve slowing down their vaunted running game and forcing freshman quarterback Graham Mertz to beat them.
That’s what Northwestern did two weeks ago as they forced the Badgers into third downs and then stopped the Badgers 13-of-16 times in that scenario.
After a big first game against Illinois, Mertz has completed just 35-of-63 passes over his last two games, with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
All three of Mertz’s interceptions came against Northwestern, as the Badgers turned it over a total of five times.
But before you assume Indiana can replicate the Northwestern game plan, you should realize that both of Wisconsin’s top two receivers missed that contest.
Wisconsin has three running backs with at least 20 attempts, and all are over four yards per carry. Freshman Jalen Berger has carried 30 times for 180 yards and a score, while Nakia Watson has 38 carries for 153 yards and two scores.
Tight end Jake Ferguson has been Mertz’s primary target, with 18 catches for 181 yards and four touchdowns.
No wide receiver has more than seven catches or 81 yards thus far. The Badgers have some weapons on the edge, but Indiana’s cornerbacks should be able to hold their own.
If the Hoosiers can force Mertz into third and long situations and continue their run of creating takeaways they should be able to slow down the Badgers.
WHEN INDIANA HAS THE FOOTBALL
All eyes will be on quarterback Jack Tuttle as he makes his first start three years into his college career.
Like Mertz, Tuttle was a highly regarded 4-star recruit coming out of college. But he hasn’t been tested. And this Wisconsin defense presents a particularly imposing challenge for Tuttle’s first start.
Thus far Wisconsin leads the country in total defense, allowing just 233 yards per game. The Badgers have been strong against both the run and the pass, and they will no doubt look to make Tuttle prove he can beat them with his arm.
Indiana’s receivers surprisingly struggled to create separation in the passing game against Maryland. Indiana will have to make adjustments there, including possibly using rubs and picks to create separation in the short game, or finding gaps in the zone. Wisconsin will be without top corner Rachad Wildgoose which could be a factor. It has been a while since Whop Philyor had a big game. This would certainly be the day to do it if he can become a short passing game go to option for Tuttle.
Tuttle might surprise the Badgers with his ability to run the ball. Indiana likely won’t call plays that ask Tuttle to carry the ball, but he will no doubt be under pressure. If Tuttle can effectively escape the pocket and make plays with his feet it could change the complexion of the game.
To this point Indiana hasn’t run the ball well against the league’s traditional powers. The Hoosiers had a big day on the ground against Maryland, but that was on the heels of a net negative day against Ohio State. Something in the middle is probably the best that can be hoped for against a stout Wisconsin front seven.
The return of starting tackle Caleb Jones would be welcomed in both the run and pass games. He is a game time decision.
With twice as many games under their belts and a program about as bought in as possible. Indiana is in a rhythm and will come to play.
IU has produced an incredible 16 interceptions and 18 total takeaways through 6 games. If they can keep that run going the Hoosiers should make it a game.
There is no reason to doubt IU at this point, but this is a big ask for Tuttle in his first start.
The Hoosiers will be right there until the end.
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