8:17 PM ET, December 1, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS -- Wisconsin took the ball and ran away with another Big Ten title.
Montee Ball ran for 202 yards and three touchdowns and the Badgers scored seven touchdowns on their first nine possessions, blowing out Nebraska (No. 12 BCS, No. 14 AP) 70-31 to win their third straight, and most improbable, Big Ten title on Saturday night.
Wisconsin will be the first five-loss team to play in the Rose Bowl and is the first school to represent the league in three consecutive Rose Bowls since Michigan in the late 1970s.
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"As my AD tells me all the time, you haven't won one yet," coach Bret Bielema said. "We're going out there to win. That's the mission, and I appreciate all the fans coming out to Madison East."
It was a milestone night for the Badgers.
For the first time in school history, the Badgers had two 200-yard rushers. They finished with the fourth-highest rushing total in school history (539) and tied a conference championship game scoring record. Texas also scored 70 points in the 2005 Big 12 championship game.
And it was a fitting end to a wacky Big Ten season. Wisconsin (8-5, 4-4) only reached this year's because Leaders Division champion Ohio State (12-0) and division runner-up Penn State (8-4) were both ineligible for postseason play.
The Badgers didn't care about what others were saying. They simply advantage of their good fortune and delivered a night to remember.
Ball broke the Football Bowl Subdivision career rushing touchdowns record and was named the game MVP.
Melvin Gordon opened the scoring with a 56-yard TD run and closed the first half with a 60-yard run to set up another TD, rushing for a career-high 216 yards on nine carries. Three different Badgers threw passes, including running back James White who also ran for four TDs.
The Ball Is Rolling
Wisconsin's Montee Ball has scored more touchdowns than any other FBS player in history. Ball scored three touchdowns in Wisconsin's rout of Nebraska, and now has 82 for his career, four more than Travis Prentice.
|Montee Ball, Wisconsin (2009-current)||82|
|Travis Prentice, Miami, Ohio (1996-99)||78|
|Ricky Williams, Texas (1995-98)||75|
|Taurean Henderson, Texas Tech (2002-05)||69|
|Brock Forsey, Boise State (1999-02)||68|
|Cedric Benson, Texas (2001-04)||67|
|DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma (2007-10)||65|
|Anthony Thompson, Indiana (1986-89)||65|
|Ron Dayne, Wisconsin (1996-99)||63|
|Marshall Faulk, San Diego St. (1991-93)||62|
The defense was dominant, too. In the first half alone, Taylor Martinez was sacked three times, fumbled twice, losing one and having the early pick-six.
Ball matched Travis Prentice's FBS record for most career games with multiple TDs (25), topped the 5,000-yard mark and was named the game's MVP. He also broke Prentice's record for rushing TDs in a career (73) and now has 76.
White added 108 yards and threw his first career TD pass, too.
Wisconsin piled up 639 total yards, and after blowing a 17-point lead against the Cornhuskers in a 30-27 September loss, Bielema refused to let up.
Instead, he emptied the playbook and Nebraska (10-3, 7-1) got run over.
"We failed," dejected Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "We failed to win a championship and that was the goal coming in and we didn't get it done and apologize for it."
The onslaught came quickly.
Gordon took the ball on an end around, made two cuts and sprinted 56 yards for a 7-0 lead on the fourth play of the game.
The Huskers finally counterpunched on their second series when Martinez avoided four tackles in his own backfield, found a crease in the middle of the field and stepped over one of his own blockers for a 76-yard TD run. Nebraska settled for a 32-yard field goal from Brett Maher to make it 14-10.
That's when the Badgers opened things up.
With the ball on the right hash, they sent seven players to the left hash and had Curt Phillips throw a pass to Derek Watt on the right. After two more conventional runs, White ran two plays out of the Wildcat formation, finally scooting 9 yards around the right side to give Wisconsin a 21-10 lead with 1:01 to go in the first quarter.
Wisconsin was only getting started.
The next score, a 1-yard run plunge from White again out of the Wildcat, was set up by a 27-yard pass from receiver Jared Abbrederis to Phillips.
And after Ball's record-breaking touchdown dive made it 35-10, Gordon went 60-yards on an end around to put the ball at the Nebraska 3 with 6 seconds left in the half. White again lined up in the Wildcat and this time threw a 3-yard TD pass to Sam Arenson for a 42-10 halftime lead.
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini and his players were left shaking their heads as a third league championship game opportunity faded away.
But things got even worse in the second half.
Wisconsin picked off Martinez again on the opening possession, and Ball had a 9-yard TD run on the next play.
Martinez answered with an 11-yard TD run, but Ball scored on a 57-yard run and White followed that with a 68-yard TD run to make it 63-17 with 6:42 left in the third quarter.
The Badgers have felt right at home in Indiana. They are the only Big Ten school with any wins at Lucas Oil Stadium, have won 10 straight in the Hoosier State and in three games this year in Indiana ran for 1,570 yards and outscored opponents 170-59.
But there's still plenty of work to do.
"It's time to win a game, those were his words" Ball said of Bielema's approach to the Rose Bowl.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Montee Ball scored a 16-yard touchdown in the second quarter to put Wisconsin up 35-10. The Badgers would never let the game get any closer.
Gameball goes to... Badger RBs. Ball rushed for 202 and three TDs, while Melvin Gordon ran for 216 yards and a TD and James White added 109 yards and four TDs.
Stat of the game... 0:30. Nebraska won the time of possession battle by 30 seconds, but the Cornhuskers somehow still lost by 39 points. Figure that out.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-16||5-9|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||0-0|
|TD||13:01||Melvin Gordon 56 Yd Run (Kyle French Kick)||0||7|
|TD||12:53||Marcus Cromartie 29 Yd Interception Return (Kyle French Kick)||0||14|
|TD||10:58||Taylor Martinez 76 Yd Run (Brett Maher Kick)||7||14|
|FG||04:46||Brett Maher 32 Yd||10||14|
|TD||01:01||James White 9 Yd Run (Kyle French Kick)||10||21|
|TD||11:11||James White 1 Yd Run (Kyle French Kick)||10||28|
|TD||07:15||Montee Ball 16 Yd Run (Kyle French Kick)||10||35|
|TD||00:02||Sam Arneson 3 Yd Pass From James White (Kyle French Kick)||10||42|
|TD||14:13||Montee Ball 9 Yd Run (Jack Russell Kick)||10||49|
|TD||10:47||Taylor Martinez 11 Yd Run (Brett Maher Kick)||17||49|
|TD||09:27||Montee Ball 57 Yd Run (Jack Russell Kick)||17||56|
|TD||06:42||James White 68 Yd Run (Jack Russell Kick)||17||63|
|TD||12:14||Braylon Heard 9 Yd Run (Brett Maher Kick)||24||63|
|TD||08:57||James White 10 Yd Run (Jack Russell Kick)||24||70|
|TD||00:51||Imani Cross 26 Yd Run (Brett Maher Kick)||31||70|
Wisconsin scored 42 points in the 1st half of the Big Ten Championship game last night. The last time Wisconsin's basketball team scored 42 points in the 1st half of a Big Ten game was February 27, 2011 (43 against Northwestern). They've played 23 Big Ten games since then (regular season and Big Ten Tournament games) without matching what the football team did last night. The hoops team has 2 GAMES since then when it didn't score 42 points, and it was held below 70 (the football team's total last night) in 19 of the 23 Big Ten games since then.
Wisconsin has 290 rushing yards in the first half. That's the sixth-highest total in FBS this season, and the highest for the Badgers in the last nine seasons.
ESPN Stats & Information