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Indiana football holds off Wisconsin to earn first Big Ten victory of the season

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Indiana's Aaron Casey (44) celebrates during the second half of the Indiana versus Wisconsin football game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2203. © Rich Janzaruk / Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

Indiana football survived a close one against Wisconsin on Saturday, winning 20-14 over the Badgers.

The defense led the way for the Hoosiers, only allowing 14 points and they were led by captain Aaron Casey. Casey recorded 9 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and a forced fumble in the win.

Tom Allen had a lot of praise for his linebacker after the victory.

“A couple weeks he didn’t play very well. He took ownership for that. He came, we talked,” Allen said about Casey. “He’s just a special, special person. He’s the leader of our defense, the leader of our team. Not up for giving many speeches. He doesn’t need to. He just needs to play like that, let his play doing the talking. He leads the defense when he’s on the field.”

Aaron Casey has been one of if not the best players in this Indiana defense and his performance today showed that.

“You have to have your best players step up and play really well in games like this, a game you have know you have to win, against a really good team,” Allen said about Casey’s performance. “Proud of him and proud of all the guys around him.”

The defense stepped up all game while the Indiana offense looked great for the first 30 minutes, but disappeared in the second half. They gained 36 total yards in the second half after totaling 205 yards in the first half.

While the offense played well in the first half, it felt like they left some points out there. A missed field goal and dropped TD pass highlighted that.

“Our offense was very, very effective in the first half. Time of possession was 33 minutes to theirs was the difference,” Allen said about his offense’s performance. “That paid off in the second half. We weren’t on the field very much at all in the first half because defense was getting three-and-outs, offense was staying on the field, even though we didn’t get as many points as we should have with the drives we had.”

While the offense was inconsistent, the highlight of the game came in the first half when Donaven McCulley made an incredible one-handed touchdown catch.

“I’ve always felt like that he was a guy that should have the mindset that they just can’t guard me,” Allen said about his receiver. “If the ball is anywhere near me, I’ll going to come down with it. They’re going to have to grab me, hold me, interfere with me in order to make a play.”

McCulley finished with 5 catches for 67 yards and the score.

McCulley is in his second year at WR after moving from QB and has improved quickly, becoming a weapon for this Indiana offense. The 6-foot-5 receiver is a huge target and used his size well against Wisconsin.

His quarterback, Brendan Sorsby, was inconsistent but did enough to get the win. Sorsby finished 19-31 with 186 passing yards, a passing touchdown and added a score on the ground for the Hoosiers.

While the offense was inconsistent, a big emphasis for the Indiana offense was taking care of the ball and they did just that. They finished with zero turnovers while the defense forced two against Wisconsin.

Late in the game, Indiana football had the ball with a chance to run the clock out but was stopped with just over a minute to go. Allen had a decision about whether he would kick the 50-yard field goal to extend the lead to 6 or punt and try to pin the Badgers deep.

Indiana kicker Chris Freeman had already missed once, but the wind was at his back this time with the game on the line.

“We trusted Chris. He’s been kicking really well. I know he missed one earlier. Strong wind against his back. We actually chose the wind for the fourth quarter,” Allen said about the decision to kick. “We had to make that decision at halftime. That was part of our discussion for that situation. It worked out in our favor.”

Allen took a risk and it paid off, as Freeman made the kick to give them a 6-point lead with 1:10 to go. Wisconsin had a chance to win but the defense stepped up to hold them off.

Louis Moore forced a fumble that sealed the victory for the Hoosiers. Allen spoke about a conversation between the coaches and Moore before the drive.

“At the end, Louis Moore, he wanted to be on their best receiver. We had it switched the other way around. No, coach, I want this guy right now to finish off the game,” Allen said about Moore. “That’s what you want. You want a guy to have that kind of confidence, swagger, edge about him. He was able to finish as well.”

Indiana kept their chances for bowl eligibility alive with the victory. The Hoosiers now need to win their final three games against Illinois, Michigan State and Purdue to finish the season bowl eligible.

“It’s earmuffs and blinders every single week. Come back to work, no matter what happened, good or bad, attack the next day,” Allen said about the victory. “Easier said than done, no doubt. Definitely hard to do. To see them rewarded for that today is pretty special. We know we got to go do it again next week. We’re going to enjoy this for 24 hours.”

SEE ALSO: Player Postgame Q&A: Indiana football players react to 20-14 victory over Wisconsin

Make sure to follow Hoosier Illustratedpart of the Full Ride Network, on Twitter @Indiana_FRN, Facebook and YouTubeto stay up to date on all of the news, updates and coverage of Indiana University athletics. You can also listen to the Talking’ Bout the Hoosiers podcast on Spotify.

Drew Rosenberg is staff writer for HoosierIllustrated.com and hosts 'The Talkin' Bout the Hoosiers Podcast' covering Indiana University athletics. Drew graduated from Indiana University's Sports Media program in 2024.

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