Putting a 70-23 beating on Northwestern at Camp Randall Stadium was a fitting way for No.5 Wisconsin to earn a share of the Big Ten Conference title, as the Badgers have put up offensive numbers in record- setting fashion this season.
"I think they're very well coached, a good core of offensive players that are very, very good," Head Coach Bret Bielema said. "To see them have that success, it's going to be hard to beat this offense."
The Badgers' offense has broken several single-season team records already and is well on its way to setting a mark in numerous other categories.
"It's amazing," Wisconsin sophomore running back Montee Ball said of the offense. "But it's not a surprise to us because we practice extremely hard. We know what we're capable of doing and we're most definitely glad to see we're doing that in the games."
This year's team has broken the school record for total points (520) and rushing touchdowns (46) in a season. Wisconsin (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) will have a chance to add to that total in its bowl game, as the NCAA began including post-season games in final season statistics in 2002.
The Badgers also put up their three highest single-game scoring totals in 2010. To go along with Saturday's 70-point effort, Wisconsin initially broke a 48-year-old modern era record Sept. 25 after the Badgers crushed Austin Peay 70-3 and shattered that mark following their 83-20 drudging of Indiana Nov. 13. The 83-point output also tied a modern era Big Ten record.
"It just means that we're clicking on all cylinders," tailback James White said. "We've just got to keep moving forward on to the bowl game."
And in that final game, which will likely be the Rose Bowl, the Badgers will have a chance to officially set several other marks.
This year's team is on pace to shatter the record for single-season scoring average. Wisconsin has averaged 43.3 points per game, well ahead of the mark of 34.3 set by the 2005 squad.
The Badgers could also set the one-year mark for total offense (about 5 yards per game off the pace), rushing average per carry (one-tenth of a yard ahead of the pace) and completion percentage (ahead of mark by 7 percent).
"We play Wisconsin football," Ball said. "We're practicing hard in practice and coach emphasizes that we need to carry that forward into the game.
No Clay, No Problem
While many teams would struggle with their top rushing option sidelined, that's not the case for Wisconsin.
Ball went over 100 yards on the ground for a fourth straight game after rushing for a career-high 178 Saturday. White racked up 137 rushing yards to push him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season (1,032). This marked the fifth game this season Wisconsin has had a pair of 100-yard rushers in a game.
Ball (career-high 178 yards) and White (137) each rushed for 100-plus yards for a second straight game in Clay's absence.
Ball also scored four rushing touchdowns for a second consecutive week and surpassed 100 yards rushing for the fourth game in a row. White now has 1,032 yards on the ground, giving the Badgers a 1,000-yard rusher every year since 2005.
"I'm seeing men grow up in front of me," Clay said of Ball and White. "Watching these guys, being the older guy, I'm just proud of the guys. They're out there… working hard, putting up numbers."
After sitting out two games, Clay returned to limited action Saturday, carrying four times for nine yards. Clay admitted he wasn't 100 percent, but he feels he should be ready for the bowl game.
"I'm almost (ready) right now," Clay said. "The extra time off and the extra drills I can do (will hopefully) make it better."
When asked if college football should use a playoff system to determine a national champion, Bielema gave a simple one-word answer: No.
But Wisconsin's head man didn't hesitate to hype up his team.
"I really believe that right now, the way we're playing, we're playing as good as anybody in the country," Bielema said. "As a football coach, I can sit back and say we can play with anybody, play with confidence and keep moving forward."
The Badgers entered Saturday No. 7 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings and as a long shot to earn a spot in the national title game. Wisconsin will officially learn its bowl fate Dec. 5, but the Badgers will need several teams in front of them (mainly Oregon and Auburn) to lose in order to have a shot to play for the title.
Still, White shares Bielema's belief Wisconsin can match-up with the best.
"We feel like we can compete against anybody in college football if we go out there and execute the way we do," White said. "We know there are going to be good teams that we're going to be playing against. We've just got to play tough football."
Home Sweet Home
Wisconsin has really enjoyed playing at Camp Randall Stadium this season.
In fact, the Badgers' victory over Northwestern Saturday helped the team to a perfect 7-0 record this year on its home turf. Wisconsin finished 7-0 for just the fourth time in school history and has now finished undefeated at home 11 times.
"Sometimes I wish that I was another team coming into Camp Randall, just to see how it feels," senior lineman John Moffitt said. "I know how hard it is to go into an Ohio State, a Penn State, an Iowa and I feel like Camp Randall is right up there. It's just a great atmosphere. I will never forget that Ohio State game when we ran back that one. I thought the whole place was going to come down. The electricity, the energy, you can just feel it in the air and it makes a difference."
From the infirmary
Wisconsin senior tight end Lance Kendricks remained on the ground for several minutes following his 29-yard touchdown catch from senior quarterback Scott Tolzien in the second quarter. Kendricks admitted he just "had the wind knocked out of (him)" and x-rays were negative.
Junior cornerback Antonio Fenelus left the game in the second quarter after he "rolled up his ankle," according to Bielema. He didn't return, but Bielema didn't believe the injury to be serious and thought about putting him back in.