Indiana Daily Student

No. 12 IU football travels to Madison for matchup with No. 16 Wisconsin

Then-redshirt senior quarterback Richard Lagow runs the ball against Wisconsin on Nov. 4, 2017, at Memorial Stadium. IU's football team has improved dramatically since its last matchup with Wisconsin in 2017, when the Hoosiers lost 45-17.
Then-redshirt senior quarterback Richard Lagow runs the ball against Wisconsin on Nov. 4, 2017, at Memorial Stadium. IU's football team has improved dramatically since its last matchup with Wisconsin in 2017, when the Hoosiers lost 45-17.

Despite fighting through a conference-only schedule and losing its starting quarterback for the rest of the season, IU head coach Tom Allen said the team will not blink. 

No. 12 IU will travel to Madison, Wisconsin, on Saturday without sophomore quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to play No. 16 Wisconsin. The last time the Hoosiers defeated the Badgers was in 2002, which marked the second of consecutive victories. 

The team is preparing not only for the Wisconsin offense and defense, but also for the elements it will face on the field at Camp Randall Stadium. 

“Last time I checked, there’s not a dome in Madison, Wisconsin,” Allen said during a Thursday Zoom call. “So we’ve been outside every single day. I played my college football up in the state of Wisconsin, so I know how cold it is this time of year up there.” 

Due to cancellations as a result of COVID-19, the Badgers have played in only three games this season and boast a 2-1 record. They are averaging more than 33 points per game, which ranks second in the Big Ten.

Wisconsin freshman quarterback Graham Mertz opened the season against Illinois by completing 20 of 21 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns in a dominant 45-7 victory. 

“I am impressed with their quarterback,” IU defensive coordinator Kane Wommack said. “Graham Mertz, for a young player, he’s very efficient with what they ask him to do. As always, you see a guy grow and grow and build, take his licks a couple of times and answer back.” 

However, Mertz threw three interceptions Nov. 21 against Northwestern, and IU leads the nation with 16 interceptions this season. The Hoosiers are also first in the Big Ten with 20 sacks. 

But the strength of Wisconsin’s football team lies in its own defense. The Badgers allow the least amount of points, passing yards and rushing yards across the entire conference. 

With sophomore quarterback Jack Tuttle making his first start for IU, it will be difficult for the team to put points on the board. But the team expressed its confidence in Tuttle, and his teammates expect him to play well. 

“I think my teammates are great, they’re really supportive,” Tuttle said. “We’re practicing extremely hard this week, and we’ll be ready to go. I think it’s great, I’m really excited. I’m looking forward to playing loose and having some fun on Saturday.” 

Saturday presents an opportunity for the Hoosiers to elevate their play as an entire team. A win will give IU its sixth conference victory for the first time since 1987 and just the third time in program history. 

“We’ve challenged our guys, everybody’s got to be one percent better,” Allen said. “Individually, in each position room, on each side of the football. That collective one percent creates an elevation of performance for the entire team, and that’s what it comes down to.”

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