November 5, 2009

Inside the numbers: Indiana

MADISON - In looking at Indiana's record (4-5 overall, 1-4 Big Ten), many would think Saturday's game would be an easy win for 6-2 Wisconsin. But when you take a closer look at three of the Hoosiers losses, it become clear to see that this same team could just as easily be 7-2 overall and 4-1 in league play.

Unfortunately for Indiana, that is the way the ball has bounced in 2009. On Saturday, the Badgers hope to extend IU's two-game losing streak when they head down to Bloomington for the second year in a row.

Before then, however, takes a closer look inside the 2009 Indiana football team. The following is an inside the numbers look at the Hoosiers through nine games.

3 tough games: There have been three occasions this season where Indiana had its opponent on its heels, but couldn't quite complete the knockout punch. It started in the Big Ten opener when the Hoosiers hung with Michigan, and even held a fourth quarter lead, before the Wolverines rallied for the 36-33 win.

Then, following that disheartening loss, the Hoosiers dropped back-to-back games in blowout fashion to Ohio State and Virginia. But after a homecoming win against Illinois, the Hoosiers looked to be back on track. Until a late fourth quarter collapse in each of the next two weeks (at Northwestern and at Iowa) did them in again.

Now, Indiana has to sit with the fact that it's a below .500 football team. But had the ball bounced one way or the other, they could easily be fighting for bowl positioning atop the Big Ten conference.

4: Four players on the Indiana roster are originally from Wisconsin. Most notably is Chris Hagerup, the brother to mega-recruit Will Hagerup who recently verbally committed to Michigan. Other than Hagerup, Shane Covington, Nick Polk and Alexander Webb all hail from the greater Milwaukee area.

3 turnovers: In each of Indiana's previous three games the Hoosiers have forced at least three turnovers. Last week against Iowa, a team fighting for a spot in the BCS national championship game, Indiana forced six turnovers, five that came in the form of interceptions. That was the most turnovers a Hoosier defense has forced since Oregon coughed up the ball seven times on Sept. 11, 2004.

Over the same three games, the Hoosiers have recorded a plus-eight advantage in turnover margin. Overall, Indiana has forced 24 turnovers while only committing 15 for a plus-nine edge in turnover margin. That leads the league and is ninth nationally.

28.2 points: The Hoosiers have allowed just over 28 points per game during the 2009 season. No other team in the Big Ten has allowed more points to this point in the season. Wisconsin enters this game averaging 29.4 points per game, good for fourth in the league.

25 yards: Ray Fisher, Indiana's special teams workhorse, will miss Saturday's game with an injury. Before the injury, Fisher played an instrumental part in Indiana's kickoff and punt return success. When returning kicks, IU would average 25 yards per return, good for second in the league and 17th nationally. His 9.8 yards per punt return was also good for second in the league and 51st nationally.

15: So far, the Hoosiers defense has allowed 15 touchdowns rushing and 15 touchdowns passing. On the season, the Badgers have scored 18 touchdowns via the rush and nine through the air.

45 percent: Indiana has allowed opponents to pick up 45 percent of their third down opportunities this season. At the same clip, Indiana has only converted 37 percent of its third down conversions.

117-68: Knowing the way Indiana has let second half leads slip away this season, it shouldn't be surprising that the Hoosiers have been outscored 117-68 in the second half of games this season. Particularly concerning for Indiana is the way they have been giving up points in the fourth quarter. Overall, they have been outscored 82-52 in the final frame.

13.5 TFL: It seems like it's becoming a weekly ritual, because on every Saturday the Badgers face a defensive end doing great work on the season. This week, UW gets to line up against Jamie Kirlew. As a defensive end, Kirlew leads the team with 13.5 tackles-for-loss and ranks fourth on the team with 49 tackles.

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