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Badgers Rose Bowl bound after 70-31 rout of Nebraska

by
Wisconsin Badgers logo
Wisconsin Badgers logo

Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network-WSAU) - James White ran for four touchdowns and Montee Ball added three scores on the ground as Wisconsin racked up 539 rushing yards en route to a 70-31 rout of No. 14 Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship game.

White finished with 109 rushing yards on 15 carries and also added a 3-yard touchdown pass to Sam Arneson to lead Wisconsin (8-5, 5-4 Big Ten) to its third straight Rose Bowl, where the Badgers will meet Stanford on Jan. 1.

Ball ended with 202 yards on 21 totes, while Melvin Gordon tallied 216 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries as Wisconsin snapped a two-game slide.

Curt Phillips completed 6-of-8 passes for 71 yards in the win.

Taylor Martinez threw for 184 yards with two interceptions on 17-of-33 efficiency for the Cornhuskers (10-3, 7-2), who had won six straight entering the contest.

Martinez also carried the ball 19 times for 140 yards and two scores in Nebraska's first-ever Big Ten title game but its third straight conference title game appearance in the past four seasons, appearing in the 2009 and 2010 Big 12 title games in the Cornhuskers' final two seasons in the conference.

Wisconsin received the ball first and needed just four plays to go 80 yards for the early lead. Ball opened the game with a pair of runs that netted 10 yards before Gordon grabbed an end around two plays later, avoided a defender at the line of scrimmage and raced 56 yards untouched for a touchdown.

The Badgers added to their lead on the next offensive play as an errant pass from Martinez tipped off the fingers of his receiver and right to Marcus Cromartie, who returned it 29 yards for a score and a 14-0 lead a little over three minutes into the game.

Nebraska then had a 3rd-and-1 turn into a 3rd-and-11 on its ensuing drive after a false start and delay of game penalty backed the Cornhuskers up, but Martinez evaded four separate defensive players in the backfield, cut up the middle from the left side and followed his blockers en route to a 76-yard touchdown.

Nebraska regained the ball at its own 10 following a three-and-out by Wisconsin with a chance to tie the game and Martinez picked up 16 yards with a pass to Kyler Reed and 18 more yards on the ground before a 19-yard rush by Rex Burkhead moved the ball deep inside Badgers territory, but the Cornhuskers were forced to settle for Brett Maher's 32-yard field goal.

They would get no closer than that as Wisconsin answered with an 8-play, 75- yard drive highlighted by runs of 21 and 24 yards by Ball and Gordon, respectively, and was capped when White took a snap out of the Wildcat and bounced out to the right for a 9-yard score, giving the Badgers a 21-10 advantage with 1:01 left in the first quarter.

The Badgers added to their lead on their first two touches of the second quarter when a 22-yard reception by White and a 27-yard grab by Phillips from wide receiver Jared Abbrederis moved the ball to the Cornhuskers one, setting up White's 1-yard rumble across the goal line.

Wisconsin took over on offense again following a Nebraska three-and-out, and a personal foul penalty at the end of a 13-yard reception by Abbrederis advanced the Badgers past midfield before Ball finished off the 6-play, 69-yard march by leaping over the left pylon during a 16-yard run for a 35-10 lead with 7:15 left in the first half.

Martinez then had the ball punched out of his hands during a 9-yard scramble on Nebraska's next touch and Wisconsin recovered at its own 45, but Kyle French had his 45-yard field goal attempt miss wide right to snap the Badgers' scoring streak.

Wisconsin was able to add to its lead before the end of the half with a 4- play, 79-yard trek highlighted by Gordon's 60-yard run in which he fought off several defenders.

White took a snap out of the Wildcat on the next play and ran to his right before lofting a pass to a wide open Arneson in the back of the end zone for a 3-yard score with two seconds showing on the clock, giving Wisconsin a 42-10 lead at the break.

The Badgers continued to pull away in the second half, starting when Devin Smith picked off Martinez on the third play from scrimmage in the third quarter and returning it 22 yards to the Nebraska nine.

Ball rumbled across the goal line on the next play.

The Cornhuskers had a 55-yard touchdown reception called back on their ensuing drive when Kenny Bell was whistled for unnecessary roughness for a vicious blindside block on Smith, who was forced to leave the game with a head injury.

Martinez was able to finish off the 9-play, 75-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown run, but Ball reeled off a 57-yard score and White ran for a 68-yard touchdown on Wisconsin's next two touches to put the Badgers ahead by a score of 63-17 entering the fourth quarter.

Touchdown runs of nine yards by Braylon Heard and a 26-yard scamper by Imani Cross around White's 10-yard score in the fourth quarter finalized the scoring.

Game Notes

The 539 rushing yards was the most-ever allowed by Nebraska in school history ... The Badgers' three consecutive Big Ten titles set a school record and they will be the first Big Ten school to appear in three consecutive Rose Bowl games since Michigan appeared in Pasadena from 1977-79 ... The all-time series between the teams is now tied, 4-4 ... Wisconsin's 70 points tied the most for any team in a conference championship game. Texas also scored 70 points in the Big 12 title game in 2005 ... It was the first time in school history Wisconsin has had two players run for at least 200 yards in the same game.

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