Playing in a bowl would help put IU in the national spotlight, somewhere it wants the football program to be.
“Indiana (University) is known throughout the world,” sophomore offensive lineman Ralston Evans said. “That’s what we want our football team to be.”
To beat Wisconsin (7-2, 4-1), IU (4-5, 2-3) will have to overcome a recent history of Badger domination. In the last three meetings, Wisconsin has beaten IU by an average score of 68-14.
“It’s a whole other year,” junior wide receiver Shane Wynn said. “That was last year, this is this year.”
In the series history, Wisconsin holds a 39-18-2 edge and has won 14 of the last 16 contests. The 60th installment of the series will be aired noon Saturday on ESPN2.
To buck recent history and beat the Badgers, IU will need to do so without sophomore running back Tevin Coleman.
The reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week is “probably out,” IU Coach Kevin Wilson said, after he suffered an ankle sprain against Illinois.
Coleman sustained the injury late in the game after running for a career high 215 yards. Senior running back Stephen Houston will carry most of the offensive load.
Along with Coleman, Houston has also run for more than 100 yards in the last two games. He lost his starting job earlier this season when Coleman emerged as the starter.
But Houston is used to seeing the Badger defense. The last time IU traveled to Madison, Houston had a big game. He ran for 137 yards on just 19 carries, averaging 7.1 yards per carry.
This year, Houston has been a formidable backup, averaging 7.3 yards per rush.
“Again, we are fortunate,” Wilson said. “Stephen’s a two-year starter, and he’s played pretty good.”
He will face one of the toughest tests of the year.
Wisconsin is one of only three Big Ten teams to allow less than 100 rushing yards per game. Leading the defense is 5-foot-11-inch linebacker Chris Borland. The fifth-year senior has a decorated awards cabinet.
He was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2010, and was a first team All-Big Ten selection the past two seasons.
“The best football player in the league may be Chris Borland,” Wilson said. “And there are a lot of great football players in this league. No. 44, the linebacker, is a special, special player.”
In several betting establishments listed on yahoo.com, the Hoosiers are 23-point underdogs.
When asked if he thought the high line was justified or if the team will take offense, Wynn shrugged his shoulders.
“Everybody’s got their opinion,” he said.
Follow reporter Evan Hoopfer on Twitter @EvanHoopfer.
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