Ball Assaulting the Record Books

Going over the 100-yard mark for the fifth time this season and 11th time in his career, junior Montee Ball got back on track against Purdue, and put him right on pace to shatter a number of school and conference records before the season is over.

MADISON - While Montee Ball has the advantage of running behind a mammoth offensive line that averages 322 pounds, his linemen were the first to credit Wisconsin's junior running back for his record-setting performance Saturday.

"As much as it is us blocking up front, the rest of it is him," junior center Peter Konz said of Ball. "He did phenomenal in breaking tackles, running hard and pushing for the goal line. He did a great job."

With a career-high 223 rushing yards and three touchdowns Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, Ball eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards on the year and tied the Badgers' single-season scoring mark in Wisconsin's 62-17 rout of Purdue.

Ball, who tied Brian Calhoun's record of 24 touchdowns in 2005, has scored at least two touchdowns in every game this season and leads the nation in scoring. He has also notched at least one score in 15 straight games.

He's now just two touchdowns shy of the Big Ten single-season record shared by Ohio State's Pete Johnson (1975), Indiana's Anthony Thompson (1988) and Penn State's Ki-Jana Carter (1994).

"He's had one heck of a game," Badgers senior right guard Kevin Zeitler said of Ball, who became the first Wisconsin player since P.J. Hill (2008) to rack up 200 yards in a game. "He's running very hard this year. He's seeing the holes. We try to do our jobs, but he's seeing how things open up, and that's a great credit to him."

Ball scored on touchdown runs of 1 and 3 yards in the second quarter, then broke multiple tackles in a bruising 29-yard score just fewer than three minutes into the third quarter. He was removed from the game after his third score.

"Montee Ball ran awesome. He always does," sophomore left guard Travis Frederick said. "That's something we love about him because he's always running up and down field."

Ball had four runs of at least 20 yards, including a 44-yard burst on his team's first play from scrimmage, that helped him shatter his previous single-game rushing high of 178 yards, which came in a victory over Northwestern a season ago.

"He's wired in a way right now where he expects success on every play," Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said. "He's extremely physical."

Ball has now scored at least three touchdowns in four games this season. He found the end zone four times in his team's victories over UNLV and Nebraska, and also had a trio of scores in a win over Indiana.

"It's just shocking a little bit," Ball said of his record-setting scoring pace. "But I feel like I've worked extremely hard for it, and I'm glad to see that I'm doing it. It's kind of a reward for the offense as well."

Ball came just four yards shy of giving Wisconsin three 1,000-yard rushers a season ago. James White (1,052 rushing yards) and John Clay (1,012) got the bulk of the carries the first eight games last year, but their injuries paved the way for Ball to carry the bulk of the load the final five games.

Ball accumulated 777 yards on the ground and 14 touchdowns in those five games. It's obvious that the fresh legs and the hard work are paying dividends.

"Just always staying ready," Ball said. "When my number's called, I want to make sure I'm ready."

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