Preview: (18) Wisconsin vs (10) Indiana

THE BASICS

The teams: The No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers (2-1) vs the No. 10 Indiana Hoosiers (5-1)

The time: 2:30 p.m. CDT, Saturday

The place: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.

The TV coverage: ABC with Joe Tessitore and Greg McElroy in the booth and Holly Rowe on the sideline.

The last time: Wisconsin got 183 yards from Jonathan Taylor and blew open a close game halftime to win going away 45-17.

The series: Wisconsin leads 41-18-2

The line: Wisconsin -14

The Badgers injury report:

QUESTIONABLE

WR Danny Davis

THE BREAKDOWN: 5 THINGS TO WATCH

1) Back again

After getting a third game canceled this year, the Badgers return to the field for just their second — and final — home game of the season. When Wisconsin missed two games earlier this year, it came back with a vengeance, rolling to a blowout win at Michigan. Could the same pent-up frustration over missing opportunities to play Minnesota power coach Paul Chryst’s team to a win over the Hoosiers? Possibly.

Perhaps more importantly, the week off allowed several guys, including wide receivers Kendric Pryor and Danny Davis, along with tight end Jake Ferguson, to heal up further and give the Badgers a fighting chance against a good Indiana defense.

2) Flushing it

Quarterback Graham Mertz didn’t play well the last time we saw him. He threw three interceptions and turned the ball over a total of four times in the loss to Northwestern. The redshirt freshman accepted responsibility for the effort and vowed to be better the next time out. He said the issues were tied to his footwork and timing, both easy fixes. His coaches believe it was only a bump in the road.

“He will bounce back in a great way, as everyone will,” offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said. “It’s not the first time we’ve gone in there (Northwestern) and not done a great job in taking care of the ball, and we’ve bounced back. That’s part of the reason why this is the program that it is. The resiliency of the group and the mindset to bounce back and to attack the next opportunity a million percent.”

Bouncing back will be easier said than done against an Indiana defense that leads the Big Ten in sacks and tops the country in interceptions. The Hoosiers will give Mertz a bunch of different looks and take risks in getting after him in the pocket. With Pryor likely back, and Davis a possibility, can Mertz and a more veteran receiver group take advantage?

3) Hello, Jack Tuttle

Indiana will come to Madison without one of the Big Ten’s breakout stars in quarterback Michael Penix Jr. after he tore an ACL against Maryland last week. In steps redshirt sophomore Jack Tuttle, who Wisconsin coaches are familiar with. They were among the teams that recruited him hard coming out of high school. Will that give them any kind of leg up on Saturday?

“I think you have a little bit more information because obviously you built a relationship with the kid as a program,” defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard said. “You kind of get to know personality and skillset because you’re studying him. You’re trying to get the kid in your program. So there’s a little more familiarity with him, but obviously there is a lot of maturing that happens over a couple year period.”

Leonhard added he’s not expecting a significant change in the way Indiana plays despite the switch at quarterback. He knows Tuttle, who completed all five passes he threw in relief of Pennix last week, is more than competent to run the offense the way the Hoosiers need him to.

For Wisconsin’s defense it’ll about stopping what has been, for most of the year, an anemic IU run game and forcing the inexperienced Tuttle into beating them with his arm.

4) Rising up to the challenge

Wisconsin’s secondary has been better than any receiving core it’s faced so far this year. That might not be the case this week as Indiana brings the second-leading receiver in the Big Ten to town in Ty Fryfogle. The senior got the Badgers attention thanks to his size (6-foot-2, 214 pounds) and big play ability (19.8 yards per catch, seven touchdowns). He’s gone over 200 yards three times this season, including against Ohio State when he also caught three touchdowns.

“He’s impressive,” Leonhard said. “There’s times he’s creating space and big windows for the quarterback to throw. Obviously he’s a big target, great size, strong at the point of attack. When he hasn’t been able to create space he’s going up and winning 50-50 balls. It’s fun to watch. He’s an impressive player to me.”

Fryfogle’s not alone, though, as the Hoosiers can also throw the ball to Whop Philyor (32 catches) and Miles Marshall (17 catches). Throw in tight end Peyton Hendershot (20 catches, three touchdowns) and it’s a monster task for Wisconsin.

Normally, Leonhard might allow Rachad Wildgoose to focus on Fryfogle. But Wildgoose suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against Northwestern and then declared for the NFL Draft. So it will be on veterans likes Caesar Williams and Faion Hicks, along with younger players like Donte Burton and Semar Melvin, to step up.

5) Ride Jalen Berger?

It’s become clear in the last two games that Jalen Berger is the next big thing at running back. After not playing in the opener because he was battling a bit of an injury, he’s carried 30 times for 180 yards (6.0 yards per carry) against Michigan and Northwestern.

“His personality is showing a little bit more and I think that kind of lends to his comfort level,” Rudolph said. “I really like what he’s been able to do to this point. I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg with him.”

With Indiana’s pass rush as good as it is, and the uncertainty around Wisconsin’s passing game, Berger should get more than the 15 carries he’s gotten the last two times out, especially if he’s having the same kind of success.

NUMBERS TO CONSIDER

Wisconsin has beaten Indiana 10 straight times and hasn’t lost to the Hoosiers since 2002. The average margin of victory in those games is 35.9 points.

Wisconsin has lost back-to-back games just three times during Paul Chryst’s tenure and 13-3 overall after a loss.

Saturday marks just the second time that Wisconsin and Indiana will play when both are ranked in the AP Top 25. The only other time it happened was in 1994 when the Badgers were No. 16 and the Hoosiers were No. 21. Wisconsin won that game 62-13.

ZONE PREDICTIONS

Zach Heilprin’s prediction: Wisconsin 34, Indiana 24
Ebo’s prediction: Wisconsin 28, Indiana 17
Nelson Raisbeck’s prediction: Wisconsin 31, Indiana 17

Badgers: Paul Chryst expects QB Jack Coan to dress this week against Indiana

Redshirt freshman Graham Mertz will make his fourth start of the season on Saturday against Indiana, but senior Jack Coan could be available to play if needed.

Coach Paul Chryst told reporters Thursday that the quarterback will be in pads for the first time this season after suffering a foot injury in fall camp.

“Each week Jack has been able to progress,” Chryst said. “It’s been a little bit of a long road for him, but each week he’s been able to do more, and I do anticipate him being able to dress this week.”

Coan broke his foot Oct. 3 and underwent surgery a few days later. He spent several weeks in a walking boot, using a scooter to get around practice. After several more weeks of rehab, reporters saw him throwing the ball on the field prior to the Michigan and Northwestern games, an indication he was getting closer to returning.

In 14 games last season, Coan threw for 2,727 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions, while helping the Badgers win the Big Ten West and claim a berth in the Rose Bowl.

Mertz has been up and down through his first three starts, throwing five touchdowns in a Week 1 win against Illinois but then tossing three interceptions in a loss to Northwestern.

The latter performance came when senior wide receivers Kendric Pryor and Danny Davis missed the game with injuries, and junior tight end Jake Ferguson left with a shoulder injury. The canceled game with Minnesota last week gave all three a chance to start feeling better, though Davis’ availability for Saturday is still up in the air.

“That was the one thing about not playing is it gave guys that were dinged up a chance to get healthier,” Chryst said. “Of all the guys, Danny’s probably done the least, but he’s been feeling better each day. We’ll kind of see how the week finishes out, certainly. It’s been good for really all the guys that were fighting something.”

(4) Wisconsin 82, UW-Green Bay 42: Last word

No. 4 Wisconsin used a late run in the first half to pull away from UW-Green Bay on its way to an 82-42 win Tuesday afternoon at the Kohl Center.

Player of the Game: Tyler Wahl

The sophomore put together perhaps his best outing of his career. In just 20 minutes of action, Wahl had his first ever double-double with 11 points (5-for-7 on FGs) and 15 rebounds. He added four assists, and also got it done on the defensive end with a pair of steals and two blocks.

Having grown another inch, putting on 15 pounds and sporting an improved shot, Wahl had been the talk of training camp. Fans got a look as to why with his breakout performance against the Phoenix.

The good: Balanced scoring

The strength of the Badgers on offense is the fact they have so many guys that could get hot and go off on any given night. On Tuesday, though, it was a team effort. Five different players scored in double figures led by Micah Potter’s 14 points. Aleem Ford and Nate Reuvers dropped in 13 each, with Wahl adding 11 and Brad Davison chipping in 10.

Potter said afterwards that while they do have guys that can score 25 or 30 in a particular it’s their ability to spread it around that will make them dangerous all season.

The not so good: The start offensively

Whether it was the weird start time or just getting in a flow, it took the Badgers a little bit to get going. They had four turnovers in the first 10:04, including a pair of travels by Wahl. Their initial shot selection was also questionable and it led to a 1-for-6 start from the field. But the issues were only temporary. Wisconsin closed on a 19-4 run and the rout was on.

Stat of the Game: 0

That’s how many turnovers point guard D’Mitrik Trice had against the Phoenix. He countered that with five assists. For the season, he has 13 assists and zero turnovers. It’s the first time he’s gone three straight games without a turnover since a stretch late in the 2018-19 season.

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What they said:

In Case You Missed It

— UW-Green Bay was coached by Will Ryan, the son of former Badgers coach Bo Ryan. The Phoenix coaching staff also included Freddie Owens, who played for Wisconsin in the early 2000s.

— Former UW coach Dick Bennett’s grandson, Lucas Stieber, is a redshirt freshman for the Phoenix. The guard had one point and two rebounds in 17 minutes.

— Before the game Wisconsin announced that senior guard Walt McGrory underwent hip surgery and will miss an indefinite amount of time. McGrory played in 14 games last season.

— Dating back to last season, Wisconsin has now won 11 games in a row. It’s the longest winning streak for any Power 5 school.

What’s next?

Wisconsin (3-0) will travel to Milwaukee to take on Marquette (2-0) Friday night at Fiserv Forum.

Badgers move into the top 5 of the AP poll

For the first time since 2015, the Wisconsin basketball team is in the top five of the Associated Press poll.

The Badgers moved up three spots to No. 4 in the latest poll. It’s the highest they’ve been in a regular season poll since the final one of 2015 when they were No. 3 heading into the NCAA Tournament. The jump in the poll came after wins at home against Eastern Illinois and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Wisconsin is one of three Big Ten teams in the top five, joining Iowa at No. 3 and Illinois at No. 5. Three other conference teams — Michigan State (No. 8), Ohio State (No. 23) and Rutgers (No. 24) — are also ranked.

Gonzaga remained the No. 1 team in the poll, with Baylor coming in at No. 2.

The Badgers figure to get tested more this week. Following a matchup with UW-Green Bay on Tuesday, Wisconsin heads to face Marquette on Friday night. The Golden Eagles have played the same two opponents the Badgers did and dominated both.

You can find the full poll here.

Indiana won’t have its star QB when it visits Wisconsin on Saturday

No. 10 Indiana will be without its star quarterback when it travels to take on No. 18 Wisconsin this Saturday.

According to Indiana coach Tom Allen, redshirt sophomore Michael Penix Jr. suffered a torn ACL against Maryland last week and he will miss the rest of the season.

Penix has been one of the breakout players in the Big Ten this season, throwing for 1,645 yards and 14 touchdowns while leading Indiana to its first top-10 ranking since 1969.

The job now falls to redshirt sophomore Jack Tuttle. Wisconsin was among the teams that recruited Tuttle hard coming out of high school before he eventually chose to sign with Utah. He later transferred to Indiana and played in five games last year. His first action this season came against the Terrapins last week as he went 5-for-5 for 31 yards.

“I don’t think it’s going to change too much,” linebacker Noah Burks said when asked about the loss of Penix and Tuttle taking over. “Overall, they’ve got a bunch of great athletes out on the field and we’ll come up with a game plan and stick to it.”

Wide receiver update

The last time we saw Wisconsin’s offense it was really struggling in the pass game against Northwestern. At least some of that had to do with the absence of senior wide receivers Danny Davis and Kendric Pryor. When the Badgers face the Hoosiers they should have at least one, if not both, back on the field.

“I do believe we’ll have (Pryor),” coach Paul Chryst said. “Danny, I think we’ll find out as the week progresses.”

Pryor left the Michigan game early with an upper body injury, but tweeted last week that he would have been back for the Minnesota game had it not been canceled. It appeared Davis also got dinged during the game against the Wolverines but what kept him out of the Northwestern game was never announced.

In the first two games of the season, Pryor and Davis combined for 149 yards receiving and one touchdown, while also contributing 78 yards rushing and another score.

Still play the Minnesota game?

There has been talk about potentially making up the Minnesota game, with Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle telling the Minneapolis Star-Tribune it’s something he would bring up with the Big Ten.

Depending on how the final two weeks play out, it’s possible the game could be played during the Big Ten’s so-called Champions Week on Dec. 19.

There is certainly interest from Wisconsin’s side of things.

“Most definitely,” cornerback Faion Hicks said when asked if they wanted the game to be made up. “I think guys from both programs want to make up that game.”

The two teams have played every year but one since 1890, and it’s the most-played rivalry game in the FBS.

Wisconsin adds LB to 2021 recruiting class

Wisconsin has added another nice piece to their 2021 recruiting class.

According to 247Sports, linebacker Jake Ratzlaff (Rosemount, Minn) committed to the Badgers on Monday.

A 3-star recruit, Ratzlaff chose Wisconsin over offers from Minnesota, Iowa and Iowa State.

Ratzlaff was also a prized hockey recruit and was committed to play for the Gophers. But after going undrafted in last month’s NHL Draft, he decided to pursue football.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Ratzlaff is commitment No. 21 in Wisconsin’s 2021 recruiting class that is ranked No. 16 in the country and No. 3 in the Big Ten.

(7) Wisconsin 92, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 58: Last word

Wisconsin jumped out to a 25-0 lead and rolled to a 92-59 win on Friday against Arkansas-Pine Bluff at the Kohl Center.

Player of the Game: Micah Potter

After Nate Reuvers dominated in the first game of the season, it was Potter’s turn in game No. 2. He scored a game-high 19 points, grabbed five rebounds and had three assists. The senior big man was aggressive around the basket and ended up shooting a team-high eight free throws.

Wisconsin is now 18-5 in games Potter has played in dating back to last season.

The good: The first half

The Badgers were ready to go Friday and dominated the Golden Lions in the first half. Not only did they lead 25-0 at one point, they took a 53-19 lead into the locker room at the break. Wisconsin shot 60.6% from the field, including going 7-for-12 (58.3%) from beyond the arc. Six different players hit from deep and seven guys scored, with Potter’s 12 points leading the way and Reuvers putting up 10.

The not so good: The second half

Like the second half against Eastern Illinois on Wednesday, Wisconsin took its foot off the gas after halftime. The Badgers scored 39 points and also gave up 39, the latter number being the bigger concern for a defensive-minded team. Despite being the significantly bigger team, Wisconsin only out-rebounded Arkansas-Pine Bluff by three in the second half and allowed five offensive rebounds.

Stat of the Game: 0

That’s how many turnovers Wisconsin had in the first half. It’s the sixth time in school history the Badgers have done that and the first time in five seasons. Their first turnover didn’t come until the 17:22 mark of the second half.

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In Case You Missed It

— Two more freshmen made their debut for the Badgers. Guard Jordan Davis and forward Carter Gilmore got in for the final few minutes. Gilmore missed the only shot he took but did grab a pair of rebounds.

— Johnny Davis struggled from the floor (3-for-10), but had a team-high eight rebounds from his wing spot. He also added 9 points.

— Four of Wisconsin’s five starters were in double figures scoring: Potter (19), D’Mitrik Trice (15), Reuvers (14), Aleem Ford (10).

— After three more assists on Friday, Trice now has eight assists and zero turnovers this season.

— With Virginia losing earlier in the day, Wisconsin now has the longest winning streak among Power 5 teams in the country at 10 games.

What’s next?

Wisconsin (2-0) will host UW-Green Bay (0-1) next Tuesday. The Phoenix lost their opener 99-69 at Minnesota on Wednesday.

Wisconsin cornerback declares for NFL Draft

One of Wisconsin’s top cornerbacks is declaring for the NFL Draft.

In a post on Twitter Friday morning, junior Rachad Wildgoose announced he was forgoing his senior season and preparing for the next level.

Wildgoose has started 17 games in his three years with the Badgers, finishing with 57 tackles, five tackles for loss, 15 passes defended and one interception. He played in two of the first three games this season but suffered an arm injury in the loss to Northwestern.

The 5-foot-11, 192-pound Wildgoose was an honorable mention All-Big Ten honoree by the media in 2019.

Due to COVID-19, this season is a free year in terms of eligibility. That means Wildgoose is declaring for the draft with two years of eligibility remaining.