Before Indiana and Wisconsin took the field today from Bloomington, there was a different feeling in the air. The Badgers and Hoosiers were playing a meaningful game in November, something unfamiliar in recent memory between the two programs.
Ball ran for 198 yards and three touchdowns against Indiana.
Following Wisconsin's win lopsided 62-14 win over Indiana, it was just like old times. The Badgers continued their dominance over the Hoosiers, outscoring Indiana 204-41 over their last three meetings.
Wisconsin moves to 7-3 overall and 4-2 in conference play, but the most important accomplishment for the Badgers today was advancing to the Big Ten Championship game for the second straight year.
"I’m very excited about the ways our guys played today," Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema said. "A lot has been said this week about the showdown between us and Indiana to get to Indy and our guys know that the only way you get there is you take everything one game at a time.
"Obviously, our offense put up record-breaking numbers today. Give credit to everybody."
Wisconsin got off to a fast start in the first quarter as the Badgers began the game with 17 unanswered points. Senior Running Back Montee Ball got the Badgers on the board first with a 10-yard touchdown run.
Ball finished the game with 198 yards on 27 carries and three touchdowns. It was his 22nd career 100-yard rushing game and 24th career multiple touchdown game.
"Montee a couple of those runs was out of his mind," said Bielema. "He was just breaking tackles, staying alive, elephant crawling on the ground. I know he wants to make a strong push to get back to New York, but he’s just playing good football."
Phillips was victorious in his first start and threw his first career touchdown pass in the first quarter.
That with the first career touchdown pass for Phillips. the first quarter. Phillips finished 4-of-7 for 41 yards and also ran the ball seven times for 68 yards.
"The plan was to not put a lot on Curt," Bielema explained. "Curts very good at certain throws and we just got in situation in second half where I said we didn't really need to throw it.
"We just had to keep pounding it. I thought Curt did a nice job all day with the clock, managing the situation and everything involved."
As good as Wisconsin's offense was in the first quarter of the game, the Badger defense was just as good. Indiana managed just 39 yards of total offense in the first quarter, as Wisconsin's defense was on the field for just over three minutes.
After a 24-yard field goal by Sophomore Kicker Kyle French put Wisconsin up 17-0, the momentum began to shift in Indiana's favor. Throughout most of the second quarter, the Indiana defense stiffened, stopping Wisconsin's run game.
The Hoosier offense kicked it into gear late in the second quarter. Indiana put together an impressive six-play, 69-yard drive, ending with a six yard touchdown pass from Cameron Coffman to Ted Bolser.
Just when it looked like both teams were content to head into halftime with the score 17-7 in Wisconsin's favor, things changed in a big way. On third and long with the Badgers running the clock down, Junior Running Back James White went 69-yards for a touchdown, breaking the game back open to 24-7.
The 69-yarder was the longest run of his career and the longest run by a Badger since John Clay’s 72-yard run against Fresno State on Sept. 12, 2009. White finished with 161 yards and two touchdowns.
White ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns, including a 69-yard touchdown just before halftime.
James provided a spark again at the end of the half," said Bielema. "We kept running it because we thought that was a pretty good way of scoring. We were only one guy away on a couple of those runs from making it happen. Obviously before the half that was a huge momentum swing."
From there, it was all Wisconsin as the Badgers went up 31-7 after a 1-yard touchdown run from Ball on their first possession of the second half. Ball wasn't done as he came back with a 49-yard touchdown run on the very next drive.
Ball scored three touchdowns on the day, giving him 77 in his career. He passed Ricky Williams of Texas for second place on the NCAA’s career touchdowns list and trails only Travis Prentice (Miami, Ohio), who had 78 touchdowns in his career.
After a 37-yard field goal by Kyle French late in the third quarter, Wisconsin pushed it's lead to 41-7. French made both of his field goal attempts against the Hoosiers and is now 10-13 on the season.
Indiana started off the fourth quarter with their second scoring drive. Coffman found Kofi Huges in the corner of the end zone to bring Indiana within 41-14.
Still, Wisconsin's defense had themselves a ball game against the Hoosiers. The Badgers held Indiana to just 61 yards rushing, while coming up with three turnovers.
"Cant say enough about defense," Bielema said. "Indiana has scored at will on everybody in this league, and they had a nice plan that their coaches gave them. They believed in it, they executed it and I can’t say enough about our defense."
Wisconsin would respond to Indiana's touchdown with a 50-yard touchdown run from White. Then after Devin Smith came up with third interception of the season, the rest of Wisconsin's running backs got involved. Freshman Melvin Gordon scored from 17-yards out to put the Badgers ahead 55-14.
Then it was Wisconsin's fourth-string running back Jeff Lewis reaching the end zone. Lewis found some room around the corner and scored from 5-yards out, capping off the 62-14 victory.
With the win, Wisconsin moves on to the Big Ten Championship Game for the second-straight season. Despite the Badgers clinching the birth, Wisconsin still wants two more wins to their resume.
"We have two very important games in front of us Ohio State and Penn State," Bielema said. "We’ll celebrate this one. I thought it was a great statement game."
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