BLOOMINGTON | Indiana had a chance to take a big step Saturday.
Wisconsin's ground game left them reeling.
Montee Ball and James White rushed for a combined 359 yards and five touchdowns, and the Badgers ran for a school-record 564 yards en route to a 62-14 rout — a disheartening response to the Hoosiers' biggest game in five years.
"It was a poor performance from us. They ran phenomenally well," coach Kevin Wilson said. "We didn't play good D, we didn't play good O, we just kind of got spanked."
Indiana (4-6, 2-4) appeared to be on the verge of doing something big after winning two straight Big Ten games for the first time since 2007.
Instead, the Hoosiers' shot at their first three-game conference winning streak since 1993 failed. Their school-record streak of 10 straight games with 24 or more points ended. And their hopes of making an improbable run to represent the Leaders Division in the Big Ten title game came crashing down in a flurry of big runs.
It was par for the course in a series that Wisconsin has dominated. The Badgers (7-3, 4-2) have now eight straight in the series, the last three by a combined score of 204-41 and have averaged 320 yards rushing in the last eight games.
Things got dramatically worse Saturday.
"We just couldn't stop the run," defensive tackle Adam Replogle said. "That's on us as a defensive line. That's on me. That's what it was."
For the Hoosiers, it was even uglier than Replogle described.
White had 161 yards and scored on runs of 69 and 50 yards.
Ball rushed for 198 yards and three scores, moving past 1998 Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams for second on the FBS all-time list. He now has 77 career scores and needs just one more to tie Travis Prentice of Miami (Ohio) for the career record. It also was Ball's 24th career game with at least two scores, leaving him one behind Prentice for the national record, too.
Ball didn't just score, he demolished Indiana's defense.
"Montee was just breaking tackles and staying alive, clawing his way won the ground. He was just possessed," Badgers coach Bret Bielema said, shaking his head. "I know he wants to make a big push to get back to New York."
If he continues running this way, he could.
Ball averaged 7.3 yards on 27 carries — and nobody will be happier to bid the senior farewell than the Hoosiers (4-6, 2-4). He joined another Badger, Heisman winner Ron Dayne, and Michigan's Mike Hart as the only Big Ten players with four 100-yard rushing games against the same opponent since 1996.
White averaged 11.5 yards on 14 carries and Melvin Gordon ran eight times for 96 yards and another score.
Wisconsin was so proficient on the ground that first-time starting quarterback Curt Phillips threw only seven passes, one for a 2-yard TD, and the Badgers crushed the Memorial Stadium record for an opponent, set by Michigan State (441 yards) on Nov. 16, 1974. Wisconsin's previous school record was 551 yards against Northwestern also in 1974.
It was a stark contrast from the 19-yard rushing performance Wisconsin had a in a rare home loss to Michigan State two weeks ago, and it was all by design.
"Yeah, I knew their goal was 400 yards today," Ball said, referring to the offensive line. "I went to their rooms and watched the film in their rooms all week, so I saw their goals.
"The offensive line did their job and we didn't want to let them down," he added. "We made the right reads and the right plays."
Wisconsin wasted no time sparring with the Hoosiers.
Jared Abbrederis ran for 19 yards on the Badgers first play, matching the Badgers entire total against the Spartans. Six plays later, Ball converted a third-and-2 with a 21-yard run. On the next play, he took advantage of a good seal block on the right side and jogged in from 10 yards out to tie Williams for second place.
Things got much worse for Indiana.
After Phillips' 2-yard TD pass to Sam Arneson and a 24-yard field goal made it 17-0, Indiana thought it had climbed back into the game when Cameron Coffman threw a 6-yard scoring pass to Ted Bolser to make it 17-7 with 2:25 left in the half.
But White answered by turning a broken play into an inexplicable 69-yard TD run with 13 seconds left in the half to make it 24-7.
"It went outside, but it got clogged up. I was supposed to go around to the left," White explained with a chuckle. "When I came back the other way, I was like 'Man, I just messed this whole play up.' Then I saw a huge hole."
Indiana never recovered.
"We will celebrate this one," Bielema said. "I thought it was a great statement game."