MADISON—Wisconsin bounced back from a devastating loss to maintain its hopes of a West Division title and a return to the Big Ten championship game. Jonathan Taylor rushed for 159 yards and Taiwan Deal ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns as the Badgers took advantage of five first-half turnovers to rout Illinois 49-20 on Saturday.Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) was coming off a 38-13 loss at Michigan that buried its national championship hopes. Next week the Badgers face a division matchup at Northwestern (4-3, 4-1), which rallied to edge Rutgers 18-15 on Saturday.The Badgers have played in five of the seven Big Ten championship games, losing their last three appearances in Indianapolis, including a 27-21 loss to Ohio State last season.
”Indy is still in front of us. We can control all that by just winning football games,” Wisconsin offensive guard Michael Deiter said.
Wisconsin, which has won nine straight against Illinois (3-4, 1-3), had three interceptions and recovered two fumbles on the way to building a 28-10 halftime lead. Alex Hornibrook, coming off an awful outing in a loss at Michigan, threw three touchdown passes and two interceptions.
”Each game’s really different, so it’s not like we were trying to do something from last week into this week,” Hornibrook said. ”We just kind of approach it as a new week and played well, I thought.”
Illinois turned Hornibrook’s second interception into a 10-yard scoring drive to make it 28-17 early in the third quarter, but Wisconsin countered with a pair of touchdowns to push the lead to 42-17.
”When you go on the road and you’re playing a good football team like we were, playing against the University of Wisconsin, there are some things that you have to be able to do,” Illinois coach Lovie Smith said. ”Number one, you have to protect the football. The turnover ratio, of course, is big each week, but offensively we needed to hold onto the
ball. You can’t turn over the ball that many times.”
The Badgers opened with an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped by Ingold’s 1-yard run. On the ensuing possession, linebacker T.J. Edwards returned an interception 28 yards to the Illinois 25-yard line and two plays later freshman Aron Cruickshank scored on a 23-yard jet sweep to put Wisconsin up 14-0.Illinois was 2 of 12 on third downs and all three interceptions occurred on third down.