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November 13, 2010

Badgers rout Hoosiers in epic fashion

MADISON - When Wisconsin racks up 598 yards of total offense, forces three turnovers, sees Montee Ball rush for a career high in the first half and celebrates Aaron Henry's third touchdown of the year, things are probably going well.

When the same Badgers squad sees James White rack up 148 yards and two touchdowns, it's backup quarterback Jon Budmayr complete a 74-yard touchdown bomb to the team's fourth-best wide receiver, its kicker Philip Welch score 17 points and blast 14 kickoffs, and it's fourth-string quarterback Nate Tice gallop for a 17-yard touchdown run late in a 83-20 rout of Indiana, it's borderline fictional.

Unfortunately for Indiana, there was nothing fake about its nightmare inside Camp Randall Stadium.

The No. 7 ranked Wisconsin Badgers looked every bit the part Saturday afternoon. And they left a trail of points to prove it.

"I've never been a part of a blowout like this," Henry said. "I've heard about a couple of them. But I've never in my entire football career, in any game I've ever participated in, I've never been a part of anything like this."

Judging by the final score one would have never guessed Saturday's game was once tied at 10 in the second quarter. But when starting Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell left with an injury, the tides swung.

Credit Ball for kick-starting a momentum swing that propelled the Badgers to a 63-point romp.

The sophomore tailback, who filled in for a sidelined John Clay, rushed for 167 yards on 22 carries, including a clutch 36-yard sprint that paved the way for Whites' 30-yard touchdown score to blow open what was a seven-point UW lead early in the second quarter.

Ball was also responsible for three of the Badgers 11 touchdowns on the day and was never really challenged by a downtrodden Hoosier defensive front.

"It's a great feeling for sure," Ball, who at one time recorded 20-straight rushing attempts between last weeks win at Purdue and the start of the Indiana game, said. "I give credit to the offensive line for working up front. But I did work hard in practice and I'm glad to see that I carried it over to the game, and actually our whole team did too."

Right in the thick of a Big Ten championship race, Wisconsin needed a big win over lowly Indiana to maintain its lofty BCS aspirations. Entering the game the Badgers were the highest ranked team in the Big Ten.

It would be hard to see them losing any of that luster following Saturday's performance.

"I wish I could tell you how those computers worked," junior J.J. Watt, who finished with three tackles (two for loss) and two fumble recoveries, said. "Hopefully it helps us. I figure an 83-point game can't hurt you. I guess on Sunday we'll find out.

"But if we keep taking it one game at a time everything will play out."

Scott Tolzien, who finished 15-of-18 for 181 yards and three passing touchdowns, managed an offense that literally could not be stopped. The senior quarterback engineered drives that featured a lot of the run and a little bit of the pass.

He, like the rest of his teammates, was fresh from start to finish and it led to a blowout of all-time proportions. Wisconsin's 83 points sets an all-time high for points in a Big Ten game. It's also the most points recorded in a Big Ten contest league-wide in the modern era.

You'd have to go back to UW's 85-0 win over Marquette in 1915 to find a better offensive output.

"I thought our guys took a very aggressive mentality," UW head coach Bret Bielema said. "That was the last thing I said in the locker room, that we were going to be the aggressor today in all phases.

"We weren't going to let up an inch."

Bielema, who underwent some criticism earlier in the season for a late two-point conversion in a one-sided affair against Minnesota, understood many would be left wondering if the Badgers had intentionally run up the score.

According to the fifth-year head coach, that wasn't the case.

"I understand that people probably go down that route," Bielema said. "I talked to coach Bill Lynch afterwards. Literally when Nate Tice scored, we were taking a knee the next play. It was just kind of the way things happened. I don't think Wisconsin will ever get accused of trying to be sexy or (get) style points.

"(Lynch) wasn't upset at all. I think he knows about who we are and who I am and the kind of things we do here and believe in. There was no malice intended."

With an already decisive 69-13-edge midway through the fourth quarter, offensive coordinator Paul Chryst dialed up a deep pass for the freshman backup quarterback Budmayr.

When he wound up and delivered a beautiful bomb that Abbrederis would catch and take to the house, Bielema understood how outsiders could see that as pouring salt in the wound.

But he had different reasoning.

"I wanted to give us a chance to give us a first down," Bielema said of the third and six play. "I didn't want to handicap my second string quarterback and not allow him to run our offense.

"The kids just played well."



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