Badgers win Big Ten championship in a rosy runaway

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER
  • Updated: December 2, 2012 - 8:44 AM

Forget their record: The wrecking-ball Badgers attack was plenty legit.

hide

Wisconsin players celebrate after defeating Nebraska 70-31 to win the Big Ten championship.

Photo: Darron Cummings, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

INDIANAPOLIS - It's so hard to keep up with Big Ten expansion these days. When, for instance, did Savannah State join the league?

Wait -- those were the Nebraska Cornhuskers?

The numbers were comical, the decisiveness bizarre. In a game as embarrassingly lopsided as a September walkover against a FCS pipsqueak, the Wisconsin Badgers earned a third consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl, overpowering Nebraska with 10 touchdowns in a 70-31 punchline.

The Badgers (8-5) will be the first five-loss team to make a New Year's appearance in Pasadena in the Rose Bowl's century-long history, but they have nothing to apologize for. Their trip to the Big Ten championship game might have been a fluke of sanctions and divisional alignment, but their trip to Pasadena is no fluke at all.

Check out these cartoonish numbers: Wisconsin had four rushes of 50 yards or longer, but only two incomplete passes. The Badgers picked up 10 or more yards on 21 plays and punted only three times. The three-time defending champs gained 539 yards on the ground -- or nearly 10 times as many as the 56 yards they picked up in their 30-27 loss in Lincoln in September.

Two Wisconsin tailbacks, senior Montee Ball and freshman Melvin Gordon, gained more than 200 yards, and junior James White had 109. But don't feel bad for White -- he scored four touchdowns on the ground, and threw the game's only touchdown pass for good measure.

All that against a Nebraska defense known for its speed and renowned for its execution. No wonder the Huskers, after watching Nebraska flaunt its own quickness, were the ones saying "I'm sorry."

"We failed. We failed to win a championship. That was the goal, and we didn't get it done," said Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, who has also lost two Big 12 championship games in his seven seasons with the Huskers. "I apologize for it. I apologize to the football team, I apologize to the fans. At the end, it falls on me. I'm the one responsible for it, and we didn't get it done."

Nebraska (10-3), which saw a six-game winning streak end, will still play in a New Year's Day bowl game, though a BCS game appears unlikely. But Wisconsin, the first Big Ten team since Michigan from 1977 to '79 to make three straight trips to Pasadena, knows it will meet Pacific-12 champion Stanford in the Rose Bowl, where the Badgers lost to Texas Christian two years ago and to Oregon last year.

"As my athletic director tells me all the time, it's OK to get there," Wisconsin coach Brett Bielema joked, "but you've got to win one."

That would have been impossible if Ohio State or Penn State had been eligible for the postseason, but Wisconsin, which went 4-4 in the Leaders Division, took advantage of its weakened division to earn a second trip in a row to Indianapolis.

And once they were in the familiar Lucas Oil Stadium surroundings, they took advantage of the Cornhuskers.

"Right from the start, they were all over us," Pelini said, and he's right: In what seems like the time it took to say those words, the Badgers scored a couple of touchdowns.

Actually, it was 127 seconds. In that short time, Gordon, the Badgers' third-string tailback, took a handoff on the game's fourth play, romped to the left edge, juked around safety P.J. Smith and found himself alone in the middle of the field. He sprinted into the end zone for a 56-yard touchdown, the first big play of his 152-yard first half -- on four carries.

Then it was the defense's turn. When Taylor Martinez's first-down pass bounced off receiver Kenny Bell's hands, cornerback Marcus Cromartie grabbed the rebound and slid down the sideline 29 yards for a touchdown.

"Those first couple of minutes really gave us a lift," Bielema said, and he must have meant it in the same way the rocket boosters give the space shuttle a lift.

Wisconsin quarterback Curt Phillips didn't have much experience, having started only three games in his career, but as a senior, he had a thorough understanding of the playbook, and the Badgers flaunted that advantage by running one odd formation or unusual motion after another. It resulted in 17 gains of 10 or more yards in the first three quarters alone, and touchdown runs of 56, 57 and 68 yards -- by three different running backs.

Phil Miller • phil.miller@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
San Francisco 17 FINAL
Denver 42
Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Boston 95 FINAL
Brooklyn 90
Minnesota 112 FINAL
Oklahoma City 94
Golden State 83 FINAL
Houston 90
Charlotte 96 FINAL
Chicago 101
Utah 91 FINAL
LA Lakers 98
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
San Jose 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Calgary 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
St. Louis 0 FINAL
Anaheim 3
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Columbus 3 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Seattle 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close