Wisconsin proved the lie to the Hoosiers' BCS bowl optimism. They weren't ready for prime time, or the Badgers' power approach, and it showed early and often in Saturday's 62-14 defeat.
The Badgers did anything they wanted in taking control in the Leaders Division, starting and ending with the run. They came in with a goal to rush for 400 yards. Instead, they got a school-record 564 yards on 64 carries.
Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball rushed for 198 yards and three touchdown. He has 77 career TDs, one shy of the NCAA record held by Miami of Ohio's Travis Prentice. James White had 161 yards and two touchdowns.
The Badgers have scored more than 50 points against IU in five of the last seven meetings, including the last three. They have outscored IU 204-41 in the last three games.
IU, which had won two straight games, fell to 4-6 overall, 2-4 in the Big Ten. It ends the regular season at Penn State and at Purdue. It can still become bowl eligible by winning both games.
“It was a poor performance from us,” coach Kevin Wilson said. “They ran phenomenally well. We didn't play good D; we didn't play good O; we just kind of got spanked.
“We had a good week of practice and felt like we were getting better, and to come out and not play a little bit better is disappointing.
“We have work to do. We keep saying that, and we have to keep getting better and better and better. We don't like the results. We'll see if we have some great leaders and if our coaches can pick it up and keep moving forward.”
Wisconsin improved to 7-3 overall, 4-2 in the Big Ten, and clinched a berth in next month's Big Ten championship game at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium.
“I thought it was a great statement game,” Badgers coach Bret Bielema said. “Our offense put up record-breaking numbers, but give credit to everybody.”
The Badgers didn't need much from quarterback Curt Phillips, who was making his first career start. He was just 4-for-7 for 41 yards and a touchdown.
“The plan was not to put a lot on Curt, and obviously that worked very well,” Bielema said. “We got into a situation in the said half where I just said, 'We don't need to throw it, just keep running it. Just keep pounding it.'”
IU was led by quarterback Cam Coughman, who was 25-for-46 for 233 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Wisconsin had an extra week to prepare because of a bye and it showed, especially with the multiple looks offensive coordinator Matt Canada (a former IU offensive coordinator) utilized.
After the first quarter, the Badgers had 186 yards of total offense, 176 on the ground. IU had 38 yards total. Ball had 88 of those rushing yards.
Wisconsin jumped to a 7-0 lead on its first possession, going 69 yards on a variety of runs and formations. Ball had two big runs — the first of 21 yards to set up his 10-yard TD run.
The Badgers ran at will in their second possession before Phillips' 2-yard TD pass made it 14-0. They added a field goal early in the second quarter for a 17-0 lead.
An IU quarterback Nate Sudfeld fumble gave Wisconsin the ball on the IU 30-yard line. But the defense forced a punt, and then Coffman hit Bolser with a 38-yard complete to set up his 6-yard TD pass to Bolser. Just like that and it was 17-7 and the Hoosiers seemed in business.
Wisconsin was trying to run out the clock to end the half. But White busted through for a 69-yard touchdown run for a 24-7 halftime lead.
Ball's 1-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter made it 31-7.
The Hoosiers, who added a 7-yard touchdown pass to Kofi Hughes, were finished in their last home game of the season. Sixteen seniors played on Saturday. Wilson specifically pointed out three of them – center Will Matter, Replogle and defensive tackle Larry Black.
“We've gotten to a point where a lot of great things are happening in our program because of those guys,” Wilson said. “They are important in helping us get a little momentum going (for the future). I have respect, a lot of love, for these kids because they're doing a lot of good stuff.”