BLOOMINGTON — Indiana’s defense had James White bottled up.
But then the Wisconsin running back squeezed through a hole and was gone. And so were any hopes IU had of participating in the Big Ten championship game.
The Badgers ran over the Hoosiers 62-14 in front of 43,240 fans Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
“Don’t like it, don’t want to like it. At the same time, don’t want to have any excuses. We all need to do better,” IU coach Kevin Wilson said.
Wisconsin rushed for a school-record 564 yards. Running back Montee Ball ran for 198 yards and three touchdowns, and White had 161 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
“It’s Wisconsin, they’re big, they’re physical,” Indiana senior defensive tackle Adam Replogle said. “And they have a great run game.”
White’s 69-yard touchdown in the final minute of the first half was a crushing blow. It came on a third-and-16 play when the Badgers appeared to just want to run out the clock. Instead, White ran to the end zone to give Wisconsin a 24-7 lead with 13 seconds to go in the first half.
“We didn’t execute well,” said sophomore linebacker David Cooper, who matched a career-high with 10 tackles. “And they busted one on us.”
Ball scored two rushing touchdowns in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
With the win, Wisconsin (7-3, 4-2) clinched a trip to the Big Ten championship game.
“We will celebrate this one; I thought it was a great statement game,” Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said.
“Our offense put up record-breaking numbers, but give credit to everybody.”
This was billed as the biggest game for the IU program since at least 2007. Indiana (4-6, 2-4) had defeated Illinois and Iowa the two previous weeks to get in the mix in the Leaders Division. Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible for the title game, so a win Saturday would have put the Hoosiers on the inside track for the Big Ten championship game. But IU struggled on offense and defense.
“We at least got to the point where that game meant a little something today in the bigger deal. We didn’t handle it well,” Wilson said. “Hopefully, we’ll get that opportunity whether it’s next week, weeks to come, years to come as young as we are, we’ll keep going.”
Indiana quarterbacks Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld both saw action, but neither found sustained success. Coffman completed 25 of 46 passes for 233 yards with had two touchdowns and two interceptions. Sudfeld was 0 of 1 in a brief appearance.
“I felt ready, but, obviously, I didn’t play too well,” Coffman said.
Coffman threw a 6-yard touchdown to tight end Ted Bolser to get Indiana within 17-7 with 2:25 to go in the second quarter. It looked as if the Hoosiers had some momentum heading into halftime. And then White took off for his touchdown.
“We just missed tackles,” Replogle said. “We just didn’t make plays when we had to.”
Ball had touchdown runs of 1 and 49 yards in the third quarter, and White added a 50-yard TD run in the fourth quarter to make it 48-14.
“We didn’t like the result, but we’ve come too far to hang our heads now and to start going backwards,” Coffman said. “We just have to keep getting better.”