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Lucas' Last Word: Physical Badgers make statement on being Leaders

<b>James White's 69-yard touchdown run just before halftime deflated the Hoosiers' hopes.</b>

James White's 69-yard touchdown run just before halftime deflated the Hoosiers' hopes.

Nov. 10, 2012

After turning off the microphone as the analyst for the Badger Radio Network, UWBadgers.com Insider Mike Lucas offers some final thoughts on Wisconsin's 62-14 win over Indiana at Memorial Stadium.


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- There were a handful of plays on Wisconsin's first offensive possession that set the early tone in what became a 62-14 rout of Indiana on Saturday in Bloomington.

The first came on the first play, a 19-yard run on a jet sweep by Jared Abbrederis that stretched the Indiana defense and helped soften the middle. On the second snap, Curt Phillips got rocked by defensive tackle Larry Black just as he was releasing the ball. Phillips said afterword that the hit settled him down and got him up to speed with game tempo.

On third-and-8, Phillips had a run of 9 yards to keep the drive alive. On second-and-9, he had a run of 7 to make third down more manageable. Those two runs by Phillips made a statement to the Hoosiers that they would have to account for his running ability, which again softened other areas of the defense.

Indiana had the makings of a Cinderella story coming into the game, but the Badgers punched their run defense in the mouth on that first scoring drive, and they exposed a glass jaw.

White delivers dagger
With time running out on the first half, the Hoosiers were still clinging to the hope that they could get back into the game. They had just gone 69 yards on six plays to cut their deficit to 17-7. The week before, they had scored on a late drive in the first half which completely reversed the momentum against Iowa. On third-and-16, Indiana's defense was in a position to get a stop and the ball back. And this is a quick-strike Hoosiers offense, so there was more than enough time to maybe get another score.

James White had other ideas.

Mike Lucas
UWBadgers.com Insider

Running right, he bounced left and made another quick change of direction to his right to get into the open field. Indiana's leading tackler, Greg Heban, was waiting for White, who made a nifty move that left Heban clutching air. Picking up downfield blocks from Jared Abbrederis and Kenzel Doe, White delivered the dagger with a 69-yard touchdown run. His blocking convoy incidentally included No. 10, Curt Phillips, who on this day stirred memories of another No. 10 for Wisconsin, Mike Samuel.

Maybe the most telling play of Phillips' first career start came on fourth-and-2 in the third quarter. Indiana linebacker Chase Hoobler was unblocked off the edge, but Phillips never flinched under the pressure and threw a perfect strike to fullback Derek Watt in the flat.

Phillips didn't attempt or complete many passes -- going 4-for-7 for 41 yards -- but neither did Samuel in another era. In both cases it wasn't how many, but how well and how timely.

Opportunity still knocking loudly
This season has had a crazy ebb and flow. There have been some disappointments, and I'm sure a percentage of the fan base felt like the sky was falling, but the team as a whole never dwelled on the tough defeats--  whether it was at Oregon State or Nebraska or at home in overtime to Michigan State.

The Badgers have showed a staying power that will reward them with not only a trip to Indianapolis and the Big Ten championship game, but the chance to make another trip to Pasadena.

But before them, they can still claim a share of the division championship.

It all starts with Ohio State on Saturday.

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