The play-in game for the Big Ten Championship was never really that close as the #16 Wisconsin Badgers routed #19 Penn State, 45-7, in front of a packed house at Camp Randall on Senior Night. The Badgers (10-2, 6-2) will now represent the Leaders Division against a surging Michigan State team who has won eight of their last nine.
Following the game, UW’s Head Coach Bret Bielema said “I think we can play with anyone in the country, regardless of conference or ranking.”
What It Means: If you don’t have Wilson or Ball (accounted for six total touchdowns) on your Heisman Ballot, you’re absolutely out of your mind. Both players have flourished against some of the best defenses in the country. Coming into this week, the following opponents of the Badgers ranked in the top 20 nationally: Penn State (3rd), Michigan State (5th), Ohio State (14th) and Illinois (16th). And that’s not accounting for the dent that Wisconsin’s fifth ranked scoring offense made in their current ranking.
With his first touchdown pass of the day, Wilson tied Graham Harrell’s NCAA record of 36 straight games with a touchdown pass. He will get the opportunity to break that record next week. Wilson is also on pace to shatter the all-time mark for pass efficiency held by Hawaii’s Colt Brennen (186.0 in 2006).
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Meanwhile, Ball passed Kevin Smith (UCF, 2007), Troy Edwards (Louisiana Tech, 1998) and Brock Forsey (Boise State, 2002) to become second all-time with 34 touchdowns in a single season. He trails only the great Barry Sanders who had an amazing 39 touchdowns in 1988 with Oklahoma State.
Ball did pass Sanders on another front with his 12th straight game with two or more touchdowns, a new NCAA record.
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Highlight of the Game: Senior wide-out Nick Toon wearing his father’s No. 87 during the game. Al Toon, the former Wisconsin great and New York Jet was the honorary captain for his son’s last game in Madison. Toon had a nice game with five receptions, 42 yards and a touchdown grab.
Stat of the Game: (28) Yes, it’s Montee Ball’s number, but we’ve talked enough about him. It’s also the amount of points the Badgers put on Penn State in the first half of the game. Previous to this game, Alabama had the season-high for points against Penn State when they scored 27 versus the Nittany Lions back on September 10th.
What’s Next: A much anticipated rematch with the Spartans awaits the Badgers in Indianapolis next Saturday. It wasn’t too long ago when the Badgers left East Lansing with their national championship aspirations crushed by a last-second hail-mary. Wilson and Ball will continue their quest towards more broken NCAA records while Michigan State tries to earn their first Rose Bowl berth since 1988.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.