The TSX Files: Monday Wisconsin Update

With injured starter John Clay enjoying the view from the sidelines, tailbacks Montee Ball and James White combined for 311 yards and five TDs on the ground against Indiana.

INSIDE SLANT

Suddenly Austin Peay doesn't have to feel so bad about itself.

Remember when Wisconsin went a little crazy two months ago and put up 70 points on the unfortunate Football Championship Subdivision visitors? That doesn't look like such a bad effort in the wake of the Badgers' 83-20 dismantling of Indiana on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.

Wisconsin led 69-13 after safety Aaron Henry's 37-yard interception return with 11:19 to play but didn't stop trying to put up points. Backup quarterback Jon Budmayr gunned a 74-yard touchdown bomb to Jared Abbrederis on the Badgers' next possession. Wisconsin's 83 points wound up tying the Big Ten record for a conference game and set the standard for Football Bowl Subdivision play this season.

Why did the Badgers keep piling up the points? Perhaps it's due to the way the Big Ten determines its BCS automatic berth in case of a three-way tie -- which seems to be the way this year's conference race is headed.

With two weeks to go, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State are tied at the top with 5-1 conference records. If all three teams win out, as the oddsmakers expect them to do, then the team with the best BCS ranking on Dec. 5 gets to go to the Rose Bowl (if not the national championship game). The Badgers checked in Sunday at No. 7 on the BCS list, which gives them a little bit of a cushion over the No. 9 Buckeyes and No. 12 Spartans ... but you never know what can happen with pollsters and computers.

The 83 points won't have an impact on the computers, which aren't allowed to factor in margin of victory, but how can humans not be impressed?

"I think any time you can do what we did today it sends a statement," Wisconsin wide receiver Nick Toon said in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "That we're up there with the rest of the teams in the Big Ten, and we have the talent and the opportunity to do something great. We've just got to go out and take care of business every week."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Wisconsin's 83-point outburst Saturday against Indiana was the school's biggest total since an 85-0 shutout of Marquette on Oct. 8, 1915. The Badgers tied the Big Ten record for most points in a Big Ten game. Wisconsin's offense had the ball 12 times and produced 10 touchdowns and two field goals. No punts. No turnovers. Safety Aaron Henry's interception return accounted for the other score.

--Starting tailback John Clay sat out the Indiana game with a sprained knee, but the Badgers didn't miss him as sophomore Montee Ball (167 yards, three TDs) and freshman James White (144 yards, two TDs) handled the job. If you take out the two sacks the Badgers allowed, they piled up 7.6 yards per carry (341 yards on 45 carries).

GAME BALL GOES TO: TB Montee Ball -- The powerful sophomore claims this award for the third week in a row as he continues to make the most of injuries in the Badgers' backfield. Ball set a career high for the second straight week as he rushed 22 times for 167 yards and three TDs. That's 312 yards and six TDs in the last three weeks.

KEEP AN EYE ON: DE Louis Nzegwu -- J.J. Watt's running mate put up good numbers in the first-string defense's limited reps. Nzegwu posted the Badgers' only sack of the day, notched another tackle for loss and forced a fumble that Watt recovered.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He wasn't upset at all. I think he knows who we are, who I am and the kind of things we do here and believe in. There was no malice intended." -- Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema in the Wisconsin State Journal, referring to Indiana coach Bill Lynch after the Badgers' 83-20 beating.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

LOOKING GOOD: With injured starter John Clay enjoying the view from the sidelines, tailbacks Montee Ball and James White combined for 311 yards and five TDs on the ground. As a group, the offense posted 10 touchdowns and two field goals on its 12 possessions. Wisconsin's defense forced three turnovers and turned all of them into touchdowns. That included safety Aaron Henry's fourth-quarter interception return for a score. QB Scott Tolzien leaped all the way to eighth in the national passer efficiency ratings after hitting 15 of 18 passes for 181 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

STILL NEEDS WORK: P Brad Nortman probably needed a vigorous workout Sunday after punting zero times in the 83-20 win over Indiana. The backup defensive backs might need a little work after surrendering a 62-yard touchdown pass with the score 76-13 midway through the fourth quarter.

ROSTER REPORT:

--RB John Clay (right knee) sat out against Indiana, but could be ready for Saturday's trip to Michigan.

--C Peter Konz (ankle) sat out against Indiana. Senior Bill Nagy made his first career start at center in his stead.

--LT Gabe Carimi left in the second half, but coach Bret Bielema said it was a bruised leg and he'll be able to practice this week and play at Michigan.

--Starting OLB Chris Borland (left shoulder) will miss the rest of the season. He played in two games, so he can take a medical redshirt and preserve three seasons of eligibility.


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