I know what everyone was thinking at the beginning of the season looking at the week 11 schedule– Wisconsin and Indiana will be playing a meaningful game. Actually, many people would be thinking quite the opposite.
Indiana wasn’t even the favorite team in their own state to have a chance at the Leaders Division title. The team that was supposed to compete with Wisconsin to win the division was Purdue, and now that the Boilermakers have just three wins through nine games and have yet to win a Big Ten game.
The Indiana Hoosiers will host a Wisconsin Badger team coming off a bye last week and the week prior to that, losing to Michigan State in overtime in yet another thrilling game between the two rivals.
It is yet to be seen which Wisconsin team we will see this weekend– the team that almost lost to Northern Iowa and Utah State in the non-conference schedule, or the team that outscored opponents 107-41 in a three-game span near the beginning of conference play.
Indiana has also been on a roller-coaster. They started the season 2-0 and Tre Roberson looked like he was going to lead this team to a bowl game for the first time since 2007.
How did they follow up the 2-0 start? They lost Roberson for the season in week three and lost to Ball State, leading to five straight losses. At 2-5 overall, and an 0-3 start to the Big Ten season, the though of postseason play was out of everyone’s mind.
Now, the Hoosiers have won two straight games and find themselves at 2-3 in the conference while the Badgers are 3-2. The top two teams in the Leaders Division– Penn State and Ohio State– are both facing postseason bans this season, so the division title runs through Bloomington this weekend.
The winner of this game will hold the lead in the division with just two games left in the season. The remaining schedules for each team favors Indiana as they play at Penn State, then face a disappointing Purdue team. Wisconsin must Ohio State then travel to Penn State to finish the season.
Whatever happens in this game, Indiana will have comfort in the fact that they competed for a conference title in a year when no one game them a chance.