With just three games left in Wisconsin's regular season, there is plenty of speculation swirling about where the No. 6 Badgers will wind up playing their bowl game.
Bowl games and warm weather aside, the Badgers are just happy to be home for a week. UW (4-1 Big Ten, 8-1 overall) welcomes Indiana (0-5, 4-5) to Camp Randall Stadium for the first football in Madison since Wisconsin knocked off Ohio State on Oct. 16.
The Hoosiers Big Ten mark is certainly not pretty, but they played a seven-point game against Michigan, suffered a three-point loss to Northwestern and would almost certainly have beat Iowa last weekend if wide receiver Damarlo Belcher (65 receptions, 704 yards, four touchdowns) could have held on to a touchdown with under a minute left.
"We don't really see them as a 4-5 team," UW senior linebacker Culmer St. Jean said. "We see them as a 7-2 team that just hasn't had the luck. They're one play away every week."
The Hoosiers have stayed competitive by unleashing a dangerous passing attack, led by senior quarterback Ben Chappell. Chappell is averaging a Big Ten-best 296.3 passing yards per game and has 18 passing touchdowns against nine interceptions so far this season.
The Badger defense saw the capabilities of Chappell last season, as the Bloomington, Ind. native threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-28 Wisconsin victory. Unlike recent quarterbacks UW has seen against Purdue and Ohio State, Chappell is a pocket passer. However, according to junior free safety Aaron Henry, that does not make Chappell any easier to play against.
"A lot of guys, once they start to scramble and feel pressure, they have a tendency to not keep their eyes down field," Henry said. "This guy, he'll stand in the pocket and throw a laser."
With any pass-heavy offense comes the opportunity to make plays in the secondary. Entering last weekend's contest against Purdue, the Wisconsin defense had forced just seven total turnovers. Against the Boilermakers, though, UW forced four-all on passing plays. St. Jean said the defense did not change its approach, and that he expects the trend to continue.
"[The four turnovers] really reassure us that if everybody does their jobs, there are going to be opportunities and we just have to capitalize them," he said. "The turnovers are going to come."
Opponents of the Badgers have struggled all season to force mistakes out of UW's veteran offense, but have found little success. Through nine games, Wisconsin has turned the ball over seven times-including just two fumbles lost.
That may come as little surprise, considering the strength of Wisconsin's ground game. That attack will be without junior running back John Clay this weekend though, who is recovering from a sprained MCL suffered against Purdue. Freshman James White appears to be healthy and ready to split carries with sophomore Montee Ball.
The Hoosiers defense ranks near the bottom of the Big Ten in rushing defense (ninth at 166.1 yards allowed per game). Without an elite defensive front, Indiana may have to sell out to stop the run.
"Seeing zone blitzes and things like that is nothing new for us," offensive line coach Bob Bostad said. "We've just got to be ready to handle whatever they throw at us."
Let's hope the Badgers can keep it rolling. GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!