The Wisconsin Badgers are headed to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl after defeating the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 70-31.
The Badgers came into the Big Ten-title game as an underdog with a 7-5 record, including a 30-27 loss to Nebraska way back in September. They showed very quickly that they were more than capable of representing the Leaders division, jumping out to a 14-0 lead a mere two minutes into the game.
Not to be outdone, the Huskers got on the board with an amazing 76-yard dash by quarterback Taylor Martinez before kicking a field goal to bring the score to 14-10.
Nebraska fans wouldn't find much reason to cheer after that. The Badgers reeled off four unanswered touchdowns to close out the second quarter with a 42-10 lead at halftime.
Bret Bielema's team wouldn't let its foot off the gas in the second half, either.
The Badgers continually found success on the ground, as the Nebraska defense had no answer for Wisconsin's rushing trio of Montee Ball, Melvin Gordon and James White; each of them went for over 100 yards and at least one score on the ground.
With five losses, the Badgers may not have the typical look of a Rose Bowl-bound team, but with this emphatic win, they certainly did as much as they could to prove they belong.
ESPN's Adam Rittenberger and Brian Bennett's joint Twitter feed reminded fans that Wisconsin jumped out to an early lead in its regular-season matchup with Nebraska, too. This wound up a little differently:
Remember, Wisconsin led 27-10 in second half on Sept. 29 In Lincoln. It's 28-10 now. #NEBvsWIS— Rittenberg/Bennett (@ESPN_BigTen) December 2, 2012
Author Mark Titus pointed out that Wisconsin's scoring output certainly flies in the face of the perception of the Big Ten:
To everyone who says Big Ten football is boring: Wisconsin is currently on pace to score 420 points. So yeah.— Mark Titus (@clubtrillion) December 2, 2012
CBS Sports baseball analyst Jon Heyman was short and sweet in his assessment of Montee Ball:
montee ball. #unreal— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 2, 2012
ESPN's Darren Rovell pointed out the financial implications of the big win for Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema:
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema owes a thank you card to Ohio State and Penn State. A win in this game gives him a $250K bonus.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) December 2, 2012
As ESPN College Football illustrates, Nebraska's defense was historically bad:
Regardless of the stellar performance, Stewart Mandel of SI.com remained dubious about the inclusion of the Badgers in the BCS:
8-5 Wisconsin is gonna go to a BCS game and 11-2 Georgia, which came within 5 yards of the national title game, is not. What a system.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) December 2, 2012
As the Big Ten champions, the Badgers are headed to Pasadena to take on the Stanford Cardinal. With the loss, Nebraska will most likely go to the Capital One Bowl to take on Texas A&M.