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 No. 14 Nebraska 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.
“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 title game because Leaders Division champion Ohio State (12-0) and division runner-up Penn State (8-4) were both ineligible for postseason play.
The Badgers took 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 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) and topped the 5,000-yard mark. 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 I apologize for it.”