BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Montee Ball and James White put Wisconsin's Big Ten title hopes back on track Saturday.
The two running backs ran for 359 yards and five touchdowns and Ball moved into second place on the career touchdown list, leading the Badgers to a 62-14 rout at Indiana and back to the Big Ten title game. Wisconsin finished with a school-record 564 yards rushing and crushed the Memorial Stadium record for an opponent — 441 yards set by Michigan State in 1974 and matched by Northwestern in 1999.
Ball's big day probably should have been expected.
He got his first career start against Indiana two years ago, and in his three previous games against the Hoosiers averaged 141.3 yards on the ground.
On Saturday, with Wisconsin (7-3, 4-2) coming off a bye week following a rare home loss to Michigan State, Ball was better than usual. He carried 27 times for 198 yards and scored three times, passing 1998 Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams for second on the FBS list with 77 career scores. Travis Prentice of Miami (Ohio) is the all-time leader with 78. Williams had 75.
White had 14 carries for 161 yards and scored on a 69-yard run with 13 seconds left in the first half and a 50-yard run in the fourth quarter.
But the big reward for Wisconsin was clinching a spot in next month's Big Ten title game and getting a chance to defend its title. Wisconsin has won the last two Big Ten titles, and with Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for postseason play now needs only one more victory to claim a third straight conference crown.
For Indiana (4-6, 2-4), it was a huge letdown. A victory not only would have given the Hoosiers their first three-game winning streak in league play since 1993, it also would have put Indiana in position to control its own destiny in the title chase. Instead, the Hoosiers' school-record streak of 10 straight games with 24 or more points ended, too.
Indiana never had a chance against the Badgers rushers.
It took Wisconsin one play — a 19-yard end around — to match its entire rushing total against Michigan State. Six plays later, on third-and-2, Ball found a huge hole on the left side of the offensive line and ran for 21 yards. He took advantage of a good seal block on the next play, jogging in from 12 yards out to tie Williams for second place.
That was only the start.
Wisconsin, which only attempted seven passes in the game, ran the ball six straight times on their next possession, then faked out the Hoosiers on third-and -goal from the Indiana 2 when Curt Phillips threw a strike to Sam Arneson for a 14-0 lead.
After settling for a 24-yard field goal, Indiana looked like it might get back into the game with a 6-yard TD pass from Cameron Coffman to Ted Bolser with 2:25 left in the half.
But White answered as he inexplicably turned a broken play into a 69-yard TD run with 13 seconds left in the first half to make it 24-7.
Indiana never recovered.
Ball opened the second half with a 1-yard TD plunge, then scored on a 49-yard run and White scored again on the 50-yarder to make it 48-14.