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November 20, 2010

Badgers cruise in Big House

ANN ARBOR - Wisconsin was without reigning Big Ten offensive player of the year John Clay for the second consecutive week.

For the second time in as many games, it simply didn't matter.

James White (181 yards, two touchdowns) and Montee Ball (173 yards, four touchdowns) combined for 354 rushing yards and helped the Badgers overcome a 16-year drought inside Michigan Stadium with a decisive 48-28 win Saturday afternoon.

"I give credit to Michigan because they're a really good football team," Ball, who established a career-high for the third consecutive week, said. "We just imposed our will on them and the offensive line did a great job of gluing up the blocks."

The Badgers (10-1, 6-1) didn't waste any time picking up where they left off a week ago as Scott Tolzien set the tone by completing his first 11 passes of the game. In doing so, the senior signal caller helped Wisconsin to a 24-0 halftime lead.

He finished the first 30 minutes of play with 196 yards passing and helped his offense rack up 379 yards of total offense. To coincide with the offensive onslaught, the Wisconsin defense held Denard Robinson and the Michigan offense in check.

When the first half was all said and done Wisconsin led 24-0.

"We knew we wanted to contain Denard," UW junior safety Aaron Henry said. "Our game plan was focused around stopping Denard Robinson. In the first half we pretty much did that."

But as the Badgers learned in 2008, there are two halves to the ball game.

Robinson and company stormed out of the second half gates and scored emphatically with a 24-yard Darryl Stonum touchdown reception. When Isaac Anderson fumbled on the ensuing drive for Wisconsin, Michigan had an opportunity to draw even closer.

This time it took only two plays for Robinson to find pay dirt on his feet. Just like that, Michigan had cut the Badger lead from 24-0 to 24-14. The same Demons from 2008 were starting to rear their ugly head yet again over the Badger sideline.

But Ball and White proved to be too much.

In fact, from that point on Wisconsin never even attempted a pass the rest of the contest offensively.

"We just had faith in our offensive line and our running backs," senior Gabe Carimi said. "We were trusting the scheme and new we could fit up plays and make good yards. "I haven't even looked at the stats yet. I knew we ran the ball a lot, but I didn't realize how much we ran it until they said we passed the ball one time (in the second half).

"It was a great team effort."

Michigan answered Wisconsin scores with quick hitting scoring drives led by Robinson (360 total yards, four total touchdowns), but for each score the Wolverines enjoyed, the Badgers were able to respond with a long, clock-eating and productive drive of its own.

Eventually junior J.J. Watt batted and picked off a Robinson pass that allowed the Badgers to establish a margin it wouldn't relinquish.

With the win, Wisconsin now has a shot at clinching at least a share of the 2010 Big Ten championship next weekend against Northwestern at home.

"I know this," Bret Bielema said following the game. "We're a very good football team. I know we've got one loss, but I watch college football and we're a good football team that prepares weekly to do what we do and hopefully we'll be able to do the same thing this week in our preparation and that will give us a chance to win next Saturday."






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