Scores

Final

(15) Wisconsin 28

(9-2, 5-2 Big Ten)

Illinois 17

(6-5, 2-5 Big Ten)

Coverage: ESPN2

12:00 PM ET, November 19, 2011

Memorial Stadium (Champaign, IL), Champaign, IL

1 2 3 4 T
#15WIS 0 7 14 728
ILL 0 17 0 017

Top Performers

Passing: R. Wilson (WIS) - 90 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: M. Ball (WIS) - 38 CAR, 224 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: N. Toon (WIS) - 6 REC, 67 YDS

Wisconsin's Montee Ball scores 30th TD in win over Illini

Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Wisconsin's offense was sputtering and pesky Illinois looked primed to end its losing streak when Badgers coach Bret Bielema made his team a bold locker room promise.

"I told them at halftime, this is going to be one of the greatest memories you'll ever have because you were in such an adverse situation, and then come up and be triumphant," he said.

That was enough to fire up Wisconsin (No. 17 BCS, No. 15 AP), which scored three unanswered touchdowns during the second half of a 28-17 victory Saturday. Montee Ball led the charge, rushing for 164 yards and scoring two of his three touchdowns after the break.

"We started off pretty slow," said Ball, who finished with 224 yards on 38 carries. "We did a great job of overcoming adversity, coming in and working our X's and O's at halftime and making sure we capitalize on their mistakes."

Wisconsin (9-2, 5-2 Big Ten) forced four turnovers to remain in position to meet Michigan State in the first Big Ten championship game. The Badgers host Penn State next weekend in their final regular-season game.

Donovonn Young rushed for two TDs for Illinois (6-5, 2-5), which has lost five straight. Ron Zook's job security has come into question during the slide, and Michael Buchanan exchanged words with one fan clamoring for the coach's ouster as the defensive end left the field.

"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," Zook said.

Illinois outgained Wisconsin 301-285, but the turnovers -- a fumble and three interceptions -- combined with special teams mistakes doomed the Illini.

The Badgers scored on drives of 44, 39, 30 and 2 yards. Their first 14 points were set up by an Illinois turnover and a badly botched punt.

Wisconsin trailed 14-0 before Illinois punter Justin Duvernois dropped a snap at his own 2-yard line, setting up a 1-yard run by Ball with 2:55 left in the first half.

Derek Dimke kicked a 41-yard field goal to make it 17-7 at halftime, but it was all Wisconsin from there.

Badgers linebacker Chris Borland hit receiver Darius Millines on the Illini's first possession of the third quarter, forcing a fumble. Wisconsin needed 7 minutes, 11 seconds and 12 plays to go 30 yards, but Ball finally capped the drive with a 5-yard TD reception.

Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus said the short field hurt but was no excuse for giving up the scores that let the Badgers back in the game.

"It can wear on you a little bit," said Mercilus, who now has 13½ sacks. "We can't think internally about ourselves, though, and how tired we are. Adversity is going to happen."

The Badgers' go-ahead touchdown came courtesy of an Illini mistake, too.

Illinois' Terry Hawthorne let a punt sail over his head and toward his end zone. The 74-yarder finally stopped at the 3.

After a fast three-and-out, the Badgers took over at the Illini 44. Four plays later, Wilson faked an inside handoff to Ball and trotted around the left side to make it 21-17 as the third quarter ended.

Illinois opened the final period with another costly turnover on freshman quarterback Reilly O'Toole's interception. Ball capped the ensuing drive with a 17-yard run for his 30th touchdown of the season, extending his conference record.

Alternating quarterbacks, Illinois got off to a fast start and scored a pair of first-half touchdowns, one with each quarterback.

Nathan Scheelhaase was behind center for the first score, Young's 12-yard run early in the second quarter.

Defensive end Whitney Mercilus set up O'Toole later in the period.

With the wind finally at their backs, the Badgers offense started to move. Wilson hit Nick Toon for two quick, deep passes and Wisconsin was suddenly at the Illini 36.

When Wilson dropped back again, Mercilus hit him hard, forcing the ball loose. Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown grabbed it and returned it to the Wisconsin 36.

O'Toole and the Illini drove to the Badgers 1, where Young punched the ball in again. Young finished with 43 yards on eight carries before leaving in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle.

The Illini had another second-quarter touchdown called back, a 15-yard pass from O'Toole to Jenkins. Officials flagged tight end Jon Davis for pass interference, a call that Illinois offensive coordinator Paul Petrino criticized in a tense locker room after the game.

"It's a joke," he said.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
WIS
ILL
1st Downs1619
Total Yards285301
Passing90152
Rushing195149
Penalties6-526-63
3rd Down Conversions5-113-11
4th Down Conversions2-23-4
Turnovers14
Possession33:2426:36

Passing Leaders

WisconsinC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Wilson10/13906.910
IllinoisC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Scheelhaase15/19995.201

Rushing Leaders

WisconsinCARYDSAVGTDLG
Ball382245.9234
White1-1-1.000
IllinoisCARYDSAVGTDLG
Young8435.4222
Ford8394.9012

Receiving Leaders

WisconsinRECYDSAVGTDLG
Toon66711.2024
Abbrederis11515.0015
IllinoisRECYDSAVGTDLG
Davis55310.6018
Jenkins4338.3018

Scoring Summary

SECOND QUARTERWISILL
TD13:14Donovonn Young 12 Yd Run (Derek Dimke Kick) 07
TD08:21Donovonn Young 1 Yd Run (Derek Dimke Kick) 014
TD02:55Montee Ball 1 Yd Run (Philip Welch Kick) 714
FG00:02Derek Dimke 41 Yd 717
THIRD QUARTERWISILL
TD06:27Montee Ball 5 Yd Pass From Russell Wilson (Philip Welch Kick) 1417
TD00:00Russell Wilson 1 Yd Run (Philip Welch Kick) 2117
FOURTH QUARTERWISILL
TD12:12Montee Ball 17 Yd Run (Philip Welch Kick) 2817