2:00 PM ET, October 2, 2004
Camp Randall Stadium, MADISON, WI
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Anthony Davis made up for his missed month in a hurry.
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.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||8-18||9-17|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||1-1|
|TD||13:44||ANTHONY DAVIS 16 YD RUN (MIKE ALLEN KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 73 yards.
|FG||5:32||MIKE ALLEN 48 YD FG|
Drive info: 12 plays, 58 yards.
|TD||4:47||ANTHONY DAVIS 7 YD RUN (MIKE ALLEN KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 70 yards.
|TD||7:29||MELVIN BRYANT 3 YD PASS FROM CHRIS PAZAN (JASON REDA KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 34 yards.
|TD||3:10||ANTHONY DAVIS 31 YD RUN (MIKE ALLEN KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 70 yards.