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Tailback returns from eye injury to boost offense

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Anthony Davis made up for his missed month
in a hurry.

Davis returned from an eye injury Saturday and sparked No. 20
Wisconsin's 24-7 victory over Illinois by rushing for 213 yards and
three touchdowns.

Davis took care of a stagnant offense, and the defense was as
dominant as ever. The Badgers (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) held their fifth
straight opponent to a touchdown or less, a feat they last achieved
in 1951.

"The best defense today was No. 28," defensive coordinator
Brett Bielema said of Davis. "It was nice to see him bopping
around out there."

Davis carried 27 times, and his biggest run was his last: a
31-yard rumble into the end zone on fourth-and-3 with three minutes
left after the Illini (2-3, 0-2) had pulled within 10 points.

"We were hoping to get off the field," cornerback James Cooper
said. "That really hurt us."

Davis burst through the line and slipped strong safety Morris
Virgil at the 20, then trotted into the end zone, where he was
flagged for excessive celebrating.

Who could blame him?

Davis, who sat out the last 3½ games with an orbital fracture in
his right eye, also scored on runs of 16 and 7 yards and set up
Mike Allen's 48-yard field goal with a 27-yard run.

The Badgers were slapped with a 15-yard penalty for Davis'
unsportsmanlike conduct when he raised his arms in an 'O' after
scoring.

"It was a salute to the student section," he explained.

Was it worth it?

"I don't know," Davis said, glancing toward coach Barry
Alvarez and hoping the coach won't make him do any more running for
his transgression. "I'll find out tomorrow."

"We'll have a discussion about that," Alvarez said with a
smile.

Davis was rusty at first, gaining just 7 yards on his first five
carries, but he accounted for 50 yards on the Badgers' first
scoring drive, which ended with his 16-yard run that made it 7-0.

"My advice to him was, 'Let's not try to get 300 yards on the
first carry. Let's not try to make up for those last three games on
that first carry," Alvarez said.

Allen's field goal made it 10-0 at halftime, when Davis had 88
yards on 13 carries and all three of his catches, covering 37
yards.

With backups Booker Stanley and Jamil Walker sitting out with
injuries, Davis' workload didn't decrease in the second half until
he watched the Badgers' final offensive series from the sideline.

The Illini punted on all five of their first-half possessions.
Steve Weatherford missed a 47-yard field goal on the opening drive
of the third quarter and the Badgers drove 70 yards for another
touchdown by Davis that made it 17-0.

The Illini finally caught a break when Cooper sacked John Stocco
and forced a fumble that linebacker Joe Mele smothered at the
Wisconsin 34.

Six plays later, third-string quarterback Chris Pazan zipped a
3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Melvin Bryant to pull Illinois
to 17-7 with 7½ minutes remaining.

The Badgers replied with a 70-yard drive capped by Davis'
31-yard run.

"It was 17-7. If we get a stop and get a drive and score, we're
back in it," Illinois coach Ron Turner said. "That play was a
backbreaker."

Davis, Wisconsin's No. 2 career rusher with 3,994 yards, got
hurt in the season opener against Central Florida on Sept. 4 and
was finally cleared Monday to return to action.

"It was very evident what a difference maker he was for our
offense. You don't replace guys like that," offensive coordinator
Brian White said.

But the Badgers aren't all Davis -- they lead the nation in
scoring defense at 5.2 points per game and they limited the Illini,
who averaged 438 yards of total offense in their first four games,
to just 206 yards, including 42 on the ground. The Illini scored on
just one of their 11 drives, eight of which ended in punts.

"They're tough to run the ball against, but if you can't make
plays in the passing game," Turner said, "then they're even
doubly tough to run against."

A week after forcing Penn State to use three quarterbacks
because of injuries, the Badgers forced the Illini to use three QBs
because of ineffective play.

Jon Beutjer was 12 of 27 for 85 yards and backup Brad Bower was
1 of 4 for 12 yards before Pazan finished up with 67 yards on
7-of-10 passing.