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Saturday, November 20, 2010
Stellar 'Ball' game for Wisconsin


The Wisconsin running game was on the ball, or shall we say on the Ball, in Saturday's win over Michigan.

Though Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson danced and doged his way to the FBS record for most rushing yards in a season by a quarterback, that was overshadowed by the performance of Badgers running back Montee Ball.

Ball, who finished with 173 yards rushing, became the fifth player to rush for four touchdowns in a game against Michigan, an elite list that includes the likes of Vince Young and college football legend Red Grange. Wisconsin dominated on the ground throughout, rushing the ball on 33 of its 34 offensive plays in the second half. Ball's teammate, James White, added 181 yards rushing and two scores.

Ball's two touchdowns made it such that the Badgers now have three running backs who have each met the following statistical measures this season:

• rushed for 500 yards

• rushed for 10 touchdowns

• rushed for 100 yards in at least three games

It also was, according to the school, the second time in school history that two players have rushed for at least 150 yards in the same game. The only other time was against Wyoming on Oct. 6, 1973, when Billy Marek had 226 yards and Ken Starch had 184 yards.

Robinson did become the first player in NCAA history (not just FBS) with 1,500 passing yards and 1,500 rushing yards in a season. But that's a statistical footnote in defeat.

The other Big Ten team in the state of Michigan was more fortunate.

The Michigan State senior class set a school record for most wins by earning its 32nd against Purdue on Saturday, but this one may have been as tough as they come. It required a rally from 15 points down in the fourth quarter and kept alive hopes of a share of the first Big Ten title for the team since 1990.

Here's why that win for the No. 12 Spartans was huge.

If Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State all finish 7-1 in conference play, the BCS Standings will determine the Big Ten's automatic bid to the NCAA. Thus, no team has control of its fate. A Spartans loss would have changed matters significantly.

Michigan State's seniors broke the mark of the 1990 senior class, which finished with 31 wins. The Spartans reached 10 wins for the third time in school history and improved to 7-0 at home this season. The last time Michigan State finished unbeaten at home was when it went 6-0 in 1999.