Wisconsin rebounded from a slow start and outscored Illinois 21-0 in the second half for a 28-17 road win Saturday. Trailing 17-7 after two quarters, Montee Ball scored twice in the second half, Russell Wilson had a touchdown run and the defense forced four turnovers as the Badgers won their third straight to improve to 5-2 in the Big Ten and 9-2 overall.
Ball had 38 carries for a career-high 224 yards and had touchdown runs of 1 and 17 yards and also caught a 5-yard TD pass. Ball becomes just the fifth player in Division 1 with 30 touchdowns in a season. Wilson had a relatively quiet day completing 10 of 13 passes for 90 yards and one touchdown. He also scored on a 1 yard run. Nick Toon caught six passes for 67 yards. Aaron Henry, Antonio Fenelus and Shelton Johnson all intercepted passes and Ashwaubenon native Mike Taylor recovered a fumble.
Wisconsin can now win the Leaders Division title and a berth in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game by beating Penn State in the regular season finale at Camp Randall Stadium. Michigan State has won the Legends Division and an appearance in Indianapolis on December 3rd.
Ball is nine touchdowns short of tying the Division 1 record. Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders scored 39 times back in 1988. If Wisconsin beats Penn State, Ball would have three games (Penn State, Big Ten Title game, and a bowl game) to try and tie and possibly break the record.
Wilson has now thrown a touchdown pass in 35 consecutive games, which is the longest active streak in the country. The NCAA record is 36 straight games, held by Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell.