Wisconsin had plenty of candidates from which to choose in the 24-point victory over Purdue, including offensive lineman Ryan Groy, tight end Jacob Pedersen and a defensive line that harassed three Purdue quarterbacks.

But no one deserves the game ball more than senior tailback Montee Ball, who built off his strong fourth quarter against Illinois with a dominating performance against Purdue.

Ball ran hard on every play, made defenders miss when the blocking faltered and made at least four players miss on a 67-yard touchdown run that secured the victory in the opening minute of the third quarter.

Oh, and he finished with a personal best 247 rushing yards on 29 carries and scored three times to set the all-time Big Ten record for total touchdowns with 72.

The previous record holder was UW's Ron Dayne, who is also the NCAA's all-time leading rusher.

"It is special," Ball acknowledged of the record. "Obviously we know what he did and how hard he worked. His records will never be forgotten. I'm just blessed to be up there with him in the stats."


Ball had a superlative first half in helping UW to a 17-7 lead.

He had six runs of at least 10 yards in the half and totaled 126 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

His best run gained only 8 yards, to the UW 10, on a possession that ended with a punt.

The game was tied, 7-7, when Ball took a handoff in his end zone from quarterback Joel Stave.

Weak-side linebacker Sean Robinson came through unblocked and had a clean shot at Ball for a safety. Ball saw Robinson, executed a 360-degree spin move and found room up the middle.

Robinson should have had Ball down in the end zone, but Ball's quick move avoided disaster. The Badgers drove for the go-ahead touchdown on their next possession, with Ball capping the 75-yard drive with a 3-yard run.

"Huge," UW coach Bret Bielema said when asked the importance of Ball's ability to avoid the safety. "Montee knew he couldn't be down in that end zone. That's what makes him special.

"That is what gets not only our guys excited but people at the next level.

"That is a Heisman Trophy type of run."


According to UW players and coaches, free safety Dezmen Southward recorded four or five interceptions during the team's Friday practice.

That meant Southward had to endure some friendly woofing from his teammates, because the redshirt junior doesn't have the best hands in the secondary.