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View from the other side: Indiana beat reporter previews game at Wisconsin

View from the other side: Indiana beat reporter previews game at Wisconsin

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Zach Osterman is the Indiana beat reporter for The Indianapolis Star and IndyStar.com and is in his eighth year at the newspaper. He has covered Indiana for over 15 years in various stops as a student and professional journalist, and you can follow his work here.

He shares his thoughts about today’s game between No. 18 University of Wisconsin and No. 10 Indiana.

zach osterman mug 12-5

Osterman

Which offensive player must have success for the Hoosiers to beat the Badgers?

This is a tougher question to answer without Michael Penix, who’s out for the season now with a torn ACL. But, given Wisconsin’s strength against the run, I might have to go with Jack Tuttle. He’s got a lot of good pieces around him and familiarity with this offense. But it’s hard to know where his strengths and preferences lie within that offense, who might get more targets than others, etc. What I am confident saying is IU doesn’t win Saturday if he doesn’t make some key plays.

Which defensive player must have success for the Hoosiers to beat the Badgers?

This is a much tougher question to answer. Indiana’s defense is good — perhaps very good — in part because it’s the sum of its parts. Every level has dependable guys and depth. If pressed, I’d probably single out Micah McFadden. He’s crucial against the run as a middle linebacker, IU isn’t afraid to bring him on the blitz and, recently, we’ve seen him more in pass coverage. He has a genuine case as the best middle backer in the league right now, and at the risk of leaving out some deserving teammates, I’ll peg him.

Which Indiana player has surprised you the most this season?

There are a few, in different ways. Players like DT Jerome Johnson and CB Jaylin Williams have gone up a level I wasn’t completely sure they had. I’d say the same about WR Ty Fryfogle, who was very good last season but obviously not at the level he’s been playing at for the last few weeks. The last I’d throw out is FS Jamar Johnson, who sort of embodies Indiana’s defensive improvement, in that he was quietly very good last season and hasn’t been so quiet about it in 2020.

What’s the feeling of the job Tom Allen is doing at Indiana?

Obviously there’s a lot of respect and excitement, though I think it’s about more than just this season. There’s a feeling he’s building something durable at Indiana, a place that hasn’t had durability since Bill Mallory. Now, I think everyone understands continued success will bring continued attention, and perhaps one day someone will try hard to lure him away. But it does feel like fans believe there’s a culture being established that can become repetitive and engrained, in a way, whatever the future holds.

Prediction for the game and why?

I’ll go for a narrow Wisconsin win, something like 28-24 or 31-28. And I’ll have very little confidence in that prediction.


Who has the edge when Indiana visits Wisconsin?

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