NCAA Game Summary - Wisconsin at Illinois|
(Saturday, November 19th)
Final Score: (15) Wisconsin 28, Illinois 17
Champaign, IL (Sports Network) - Montee Ball carried the ball 38 times for 224
yards and two touchdowns as the 15th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers overcame a
sluggish start to defeat the Illinois Fighting Illini, 28-17.
Ball's second rushing score gave him 30 total touchdowns on the season as he
became just the fifth player in FBS history to surpass the 30-touchdown
Ball also had a five-yard TD catch for the Badgers (9-2, 5-2 Big Ten), who can
represent the Leaders Division in the Big Ten championship game with a win
over Penn State next Saturday.
"I've never had a running back compete in practice as hard as he does,"
Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said of Ball. "That's why the games slow
down for him, as easy as they are. He works his tail off every day of the
Russell Wilson completed 10-of-13 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown, while
Nick Toon caught six balls for 67 yards in the win.
Nathan Scheelhaase connected on 15-of-19 throws for 99 yards and an
interception for Illinois (6-5, 2-5), which has lost five straight since
winning its first six games.
Reilly O'Toole also saw time at quarterback for Illinois and had 53 yards and
two interceptions on 7-of-12 passing.
Donovonn Young had eight carries for 43 yards and two scores in the loss.
The Illini took a convincing 17-7 lead at halftime, but four second-half
turnovers led to their demise.
"All right, (it was a) tale of two teams out there; tale of two halves,"
Illinois head coach Ron Zook said. "I told them at halftime, you know, we've
got to continue to play the same way. We obviously went out there and, as soon
as we turned it over the first time on offense, then it seems like they began
to think and we went back into the old mood."
While fighting for a first down on a 3rd-and-5, Chris Borland stripped Darius
Millines on the Illini's opening series of the second half, and Borland
recovered the ball for Wisconsin at Illinois' 30-yard line.
Ball moved the chains twice on 4th-and-1 before he hauled in a five-yard swing
pass for a score to make it a 17-14 game with 6:27 remaining in the third
Antoni Fenelus intercepted O'Toole on Illinois' ensuing series, but the
Badgers did nothing with the turnover as they were forced to punt.
Wilson gave Wisconsin its first lead of the contest on the final play of the
third quarter as he ran it in from a yard out to make it a 21-17 game. Ball
set up the score with a 34-yard run down to the one-yard line.
Aaron Henry intercepted O'Toole's pass on Illinois' ensuing possession, and
Ball scored from 17 yards out to give Wisconsin a 28-17 advantage with 12:12
remaining in regulation.
Shelton Johnson intercepted Scheelhaase's pass midway through the fourth
quarter as the Badgers ran off the final 7:30 off the clock to preserve the
win. Ball ran for 73 yards on 10 carries on the final drive.
The Illini used special teams and defense to set up the opening touchdown of
the game. Justin DuVernois downed Wisconsin at its own five-yard line, and the
defense forced a three-and-out as Illinois regained possession at its own 49-
yard line late in the first quarter.
Instead of attempting a 48-yard field goal into the wind, Zook elected to
go for it on 4th-and-14 and Scheelhaase threw a strike to A.J. Jenkins over
the middle for an 18-yard gain and a first down. Two plays later, Young
scampered in from 12 yards out off the right edge to give Illinois a 7-0
lead early in the second quarter.
Whitney Mercilus forced a Wilson fumble four plays into Wisconsin's ensuing
drive as Jonathan Brown picked up the ball and returned it 28 yards down to
the Badgers' 36-yard line. Young plunged in from a yard out to make it a 14-0
game midway through the second quarter.
Illinois made its first mistake late in the first half when DuVernois
fumbled the snap on a punt attempt as Wisconsin took over at the two-yard
line. Ball ran it in from a yard out on the second play of the drive to cut
the margin to 14-7 with 2:55 remaining in the second quarter.
Once again Zook passed up on a 48-yard field goal into the wind on Illinois'
ensuing drive and went for it on 4th-and-2 at the Wisconsin 30-yard line.
O'Toole found Jon Davis for a four-yard gain to move the chains and Derek
Dimke split the uprights from 41 yards out to give Illinois a 17-7 lead at
Wilson has thrown at least one touchdown in 35 straight games, one shy of the
NCAA record held by former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell...Ball
joined Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders (39 in 1988), Boise State's Brock
Forsey (32 in 2002), Louisiana Tech's Troy Edwards (31 in 1998) and UCF's
Kevin Smith (30 in 2007) as the only players to accumulate 30 or more
touchdowns in a season...Ball has scored in 17 straight games and has had at
least two touchdowns in every game this season...After surrendering 224 yards
of offense to Illinois in the first half, the Badgers clamped down
defensively and held the Illini to just 77 total yards in the second half.
11/19 19:38:54 ET