As an opposing team, if Wisconsin fourth-string quarterback Nate Tice is on the field, you’ve done something wrong during the course of the game.
If he scores a 17-yard touchdown run? That’s a whole different can of worms.
Yet Tice did just that, juking his way into the end zone on a naked bootleg to put Wisconsin up 83-20 over Indiana with 1:50 in the game, which held up as the final.
Read that again if necessary.
UW tied the modern record for points in a Big Ten game and it came on a run by Nate Tice. Even head coach Bret Bielema was surprised by the play.
“When Coach Chyrst called a naked, it brought a variety of different laughter on the headset, to put it mildly,” he said.
Laughter was the theme of the day for the Badgers.
In his first start of the season, sophomore running back Montee Ball put up 145 rushing yards and three touchdowns — in the first half. He finished with a career-high 167 yards on the ground. Fellow tailback James White returned after missing the Purdue game due to a knee sprain and had 144 yards with two scores.
All said, nine Badgers contributed to touchdowns, six scores coming on the ground and four through the air. Quarterback Scott Tolzien was 15-for-18 for 181 yards and three touchdowns and backup Jon Budmayr even connected on a 74-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jared Abbrederis.
“It was a lot of points, I couldn’t believe it… I thought when it was the third quarter, I thought it was the fourth quarter,” left tackle Gabe Carimi said.
Lost in the 598 yards of offense and the fact UW scored on every possession it had was the score of the game at 14:12 of the second quarter: 10-10.
Indiana got a 48-yard field goal from Mitch Ewald to tie the game early, but from there, Wisconsin just took over. Ball capped a 49-yard drive with a touchdown run to put the Badgers up 17-10.
On IU’s next drive, Ewald missed short from 52 yards out and it took UW all of two plays to score again, as Ball rushed for 36 yards and White finished it off with a 30-yard scoring run. Wisconsin’s offensive line dominated the game, paving the way for 346 rushing yards and giving Tolzien ample time to throw.
“Those holes were huge, anyone could have ran through them, so I give credit to them for working hard up there,” Ball said.
The real nail in the coffin may have been when Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell left the game with an injury during the second quarter. Chappell came into the game leading the Big Ten in passing yards per game and the IU offense looked lost without him. Backup quarterbacks Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker combined to go 3-for-10 for 86 yards, 62 of them coming on a late touchdown pass by Wright-Baker.
Wisconsin’s defense took over at the end of the first half, with defensive end J.J. Watt stopping Trea Burgess for a loss of four yards — one of two tackles for loss by the junior. Watt also recovered two fumbles on the day, one of three takeaways by the Badgers. Safety Aaron Henry added an interception return for a touchdown, the second game in a row Wisconsin came away with a pick-six.
“That was our goal, all day, is to rattle the quarterbacks and make it difficult for them,” Watt said.
With the way the offense was rolling for the Badgers, the defensive line could have had a tea party instead of rushing the passer and UW still would have won comfortably.
UW’s first drive went 65 yards and five plays, and consisted solely of runs by Ball. That drive set the tone for the day, as the Badgers were unstoppable on offense, going 7-for-10 on third-down conversions and making their only fourth-down conversion.
Receiver Nick Toon got his first touchdown catch of the season, while tight ends Jake Byrne and Lance Kendricks also had touchdown grabs. Phillip Welch had two field goals on the day, in the first and fourth quarters and got a workout, kicking 11 PATs and kicking off 14 times.
The big win could help the Badgers in the BCS standings, where they currently rank No. 7. After a slow start against Purdue last week, Wisconsin came out firing Saturday and made sure to make a statement at the expense of Indiana. Bielema wouldn’t admit that was the goal though.
“I don’t think Wisconsin will ever get accused of trying to be sexy or [put up] style points,” Bielema said. “We outscored Bo Ryan today.”