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Hoosiers linebacker gets top Big Ten defensive honors for weekend

Indiana linebacker Aaron Casey (44) speaks Nov. 4, 2023, with sideline reporter Brooke Fletcher following a college football game between the Wisconsin Badgers and Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Indiana. (James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — The celebrations continued Monday in Bloomington.

The Indiana Hoosiers were still flying high after Saturday’s upset win over Wisconsin. Quarterback Brendan Sorsby led the way on offense, completing 19 of 31 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown. But it was the defense that truly won the game for IU.

Linebacker Aaron Casey was an absolute menace for the Badgers offense. He not only set a career-high with four tackles for loss. He punched out the Hoosiers’ first fumble of the season. Seven of his nine total tackles came in pivotal moments in the fourth quarter — the same quarter IU’s defense held the Badgers scoreless. His impressive performance earned him the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week award. 

Head coach Tom Allen knows that Casey is a pivotal part of the Hoosiers’ success.

“Getting recognized for the defensive player of the week, Big Ten Player of the Week this week is huge and very well-deserving,” Allen said Monday. “He was very, very impactful in that game, as we all saw. … Just really excited for him, and we’re going to need him, need that leadership down the stretch here.”

Casey can be credited for the win in Bloomington. He made three tackles — two of which were for a loss — in Wisconsin’s final drive of the game as the Badgers attempted to tie the Hoosiers. He even sacked quarterback Braedyn Locke with 36 seconds left in the game and sealed the win for the Hoosiers.

His four tackles for loss is the most by any Indiana player since 2019. It’s also tied for the ninth most in FBS for a single game performance this season.

This continues to add to Casey’s already impressive season behind the line of scrimmage. The Hoosiers linebacker leads all Power 5 programs with 16 tackles for loss or no gain, per Pro Football Focus. He also leads the Big Ten Conference with 13.5 tackles for loss and is fourth in the Big Ten with 5.5 sacks this season. 

Casey’s Defensive Player of the Week title is the first earned by a Hoosiers since Micah McFadden in 2020 against then No. 18 Wisconsin. McFadden now plays professionally for the New York Giants.

I think just a testament to his character,” Allen said. “He was really bothered by how he played against Rutgers, to be honest with you, and we weren’t afraid to hold him accountable for that because he’s a leader and he’s expected to play at a high level each and every week, and he didn’t do that, and he knew that. As a matter of fact, he sought me out.

“Just love the way he’s responded to that, being the leader of our team, and definitely the leader of our defense,” Allen continued. “I think it kind of willed us to win that game because we obviously had to have those stops, and he tackled extremely well, which is what we expect him to do. He’s one of our best tacklers in space. That’s something that needs to be consistent for him to do that.”

Saturday’s win over the Badgers marks the first time IU has beaten Wisconsin in back-to-back seasons since 2001-02. It’s also the first time the Hoosiers have been victorious over the Badgers in Bloomington since that 2022 game.