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November 12, 2011MINNEAPOLIS - As Montee Ball coasted into the end zone for the third time Saturday against rival Minnesota, an overwhelming sense of emotion overcame the junior running back.
He had just become the Big Ten's most prolific touchdown scorer in a single season.
"I finally got it done," Ball, who has scored 27 touchdowns this season, said. "The record and all of it, it's about finishing. One of our goals is finishing. I think that's what touchdowns really show.
"The team is capable of finishing."
Ball admitted after the 42-13 win that he knew what his numbers were and how he knew what it would take to break the UW single-season touchdown record and the Big Ten single-season touchdown record.
His first score on UW's first possession made him UW's best in the category. His third score later in the game made him the Big Ten's best in the category.
"I'm not a stat guy or anything," Ball said. "But let's be honest. I felt like I earned this and as an offense we earned it as well."
Kevin Zeitler, one of UW's stalwart offensive linemen, said he wasn't necessarily aware of Ball's record breaking moment. As a guy that continually tries to open holes for Ball, he was more focused on the man in front of him and trying to figure out a way to open the lane for Ball to get through.
"I didn't count how many touchdowns he had today," Zeitler said. "I figured he did when he kept the ball and ran off the field.
"I just kind of figured."
As soon as Ball scored the record-breaking touchdown he squeezed the ball and held it tight in his grasp. He had just become part of Big Ten history and wanted to make sure he could keep the ball.
"I'm going to give it to my parents," Ball said. "I'm going to let them have that. I owe them everything."
Wisconsin's all-time leading touchdown scorer in a single season now has 1,242 yards and 27 touchdowns on the year. He's a semi-finalist for the Doak Walker award given to the nation's premier running back and he's still got at least three games to play.
He is a perfect 3-0 against Minnesota and he's got a chance to go down in college football history as one of the more prolific scorers in a single season. His Badgers, based on the way things played out Saturday afternoon, have a chance to play their way back into the Rose Bowl.
Things are going pretty well for Ball.
"He's just a consistent guy," UW head coach Bret Bielema said. "It's fun to watch him have success on Saturday. These personal records mean nothing to him but it's a pretty nice thing to have in his hip pocket.
"I keep telling him he can probably be better next year."