Thirty-two points do not just drop out of nowhere.
But Indiana’s offense, already viewed as an explosive squad at the direction of all-everything quarterback Antwaan Randle El, surprised many by playing the role of the cartoon villain Saturday. The Hoosiers seemed to cut a rope and send just that number crashing down on top of Wisconsin’s football team in the first quarter at Camp Randall Stadium.
For the Badgers, however, the scenario was no cartoon. Barry Alvarez’s squad was unable to come back from its first-quarter concussion, losing to IU 63-32.
“It’s hard seeing things go so fast when they’re putting so many points on the board,” said UW senior tight end Mark Anelli.
Indeed, the Badgers saw several things go fast Saturday. One of them was Indiana running back Levron Williams, who dominated the game with 280 yards rushing and six touchdowns.
“Levron played very well,” Randle El said. “I think a lot of it has to do with the offensive line, the way they blocked and made holes open for him. There’s always one guy left you can’t block but he made the safeties miss — a bunch of times, actually.”
Williams played a large role in the first-quarter explosion that buried the Badgers early, scoring on IU’s first three possessions, all in the game’s first six minutes.
After scoring on an option from the six-yard line, Williams took a handoff and galloped 56 yards for the Hoosiers’ second touchdown with 11:35 left in the first quarter. Nearly half an hour of game time later, the back took another 51-yard run for a score, helping to pad his phenomenal afternoon.
The six touchdowns tied a Big Ten record and were the most ever by a single player at Camp Randall.
Indiana head coach Cam Cameron had no problem running the ball once his team had the lead, despite the fact that Wisconsin’s defense is generally solid against the rush.
“If you block people, backs are going to make some runs up front,” Cameron said. “Wisconsin plays a nine-man front and you’re not supposed to be able to run on that defense, but when you block people you’re going to run.”
Williams and his backfield mates, including Randle El, totaled 449 yards on the ground en route to hanging 631 offensive yards on the Badgers.
Wisconsin had headed into the game keying on stopping the Hoosiers’ quarterback, but Williams and IU’s other role players forced UW to change its strategy. Once the defense was off-balance, Cameron choreographed a mix of offensive styles that kept the Badgers guessing.
Randle El managed 102 yards rushing in addition to going 8 of 13 for 132 yards in the air. It was his arm that set up Williams’ first touchdown, tossing a 47-yard bomb to Travis Haney who was tackled at the Badger six-yard line.
“You have to be able to throw the football,” Cameron said. “We hit some passes early, and in our offense you have to be able to hit some passes early.”
Indiana’s two game-breakers became an interwoven, indomitable force for the rest of the day. As soon as UW adjusted to account for Williams, Randle El found receivers downfield. When the Badgers spread the defense, Randle El hurt them scrambling.
The unrelenting success was new for Indiana, which had lost its first three games of the season without breaking out offensively. Last season, the Hoosiers repeatedly put up 30 or 40 points a game but the defense let them down again and again. This season, neither side was going particularly well for Cameron’s team — until today.
“There’s no magic offense. Any offense that is executed will work and we finally executed today.”