Every week, the Big Ten Blog will break down one classic game from the Big Ten's long and storied history. Today, we're going back to a close, exciting, defensive struggle. Actually, that's a total lie.
One of the greatest joys of football is watching two evenly matched teams go toe-to-toe for 60 minutes, bringing out the best in each other and leaving it all out on the field for one crucial win.
And another great joy is watching a complete mismatch with one team beating the absolute dog snot out of the other and racking up points with only the slightest deference to sportsmanship—and that's why we're here today.
This week's classic Big Ten football game is an homage to the fight between Edward Norton and Jared Leto in Fight Club—a briefly competitive game that turned into a blowout for the ages. Wisconsin played the part of the puncher in this one, and the meatsack punching bag was Indiana's defense.
The thing of this game was, it wasn't a blowout from the opening whistle. Oh, Wisconsin was moving the ball at will—the Badgers literally never punted all game long—but Indiana was hanging tough. The score was 10-10 with 48 seconds gone in the second quarter, and Indiana was 33 yards away from tying the game with six minutes left in the half.
Then Wisconsin went ballistic.
In the eight plays after Indiana missed a field goal with 5:46 left in the second quarter, Wisconsin scored a touchdown, forced a fumble by Indiana quarterback Edward Wright-Baker, then drove 29 yards for another touchdown to make the score 31-10.
After a Hoosier three-and-out and a good punt return by David Gilreath, the Badgers then had 67 seconds to drive 46 yards for another score. It took all of 46 seconds before Scott Tolzein found Nick Toon in the end zone for a four-yard score. Then it was 38-10, just like that.
The second half offered little respite for the Hoosiers. Even with Montee Ball done for the day early in the third quarter, QB Scott Tolzien and the starters hung around for most of the third quarter, hanging 21 more points on the stunned Hoosiers.
Even with the backups in, Wisconsin moved the ball at will down the stretch, culminating in a 17-yard touchdown run for Nate Tice—yes, the son of former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Tice. It was and continues to be Tice's only rush of his Wisconsin career. Yes, Wisconsin was digging deep on its bench by the end of this one.
The win put the rest of the Big Ten on notice that when the Badger offense was clicking—it was utterly unstoppable—and the fact that most of Wisconsin's success came on the ground—the Badgers averaged a ridiculous 7.2 yards per carry on the day—meant that the offensive line was doing its job in a way most teams and coaches can only dream of.
That fact hasn't changed yet. Wisconsin's offense is still the most frightening in the Big Ten, and Ohio State looks like the only team that has a defensive line that can slow down that push up front. For everyone else, you'd better hope the Badgers are making mistakes; if they don't, Wisconsin's liable to do something like, oh...drop 83 points on you.