The demise of both Wisconsin in general and Montee Ball in particular?
It may have been greatly exaggerated.
The Badgers staggered out of the gate at 4-2, with three of those wins coming against Northern Iowa, Utah State and UTEP by a combined total of 18 points. Against Purdue, however, UW put together its most solid performance of the season, throttling Purdue 38-14 and (finally) taking control of the Leaders division of the Big Ten.
The Badgers are now 2-1 in conference play while the Boilermakers dropped to 0-2. The other postseason-eligible members of the Leaders division, Indiana and Illinois, entered Week 7 winless in league play. So, with Ohio State (2-0) and Penn State (2-0) ineligible for the Big Ten championship game thanks to NCAA sanctions, the Badgers currently sit in the Leaders driver’s seat; whether that seat’s attached to a Yugo matters not.
One of the biggest reasons behind UW taking control of its division also happens to be one of college football biggest disappointments of the season. Montee Ball, who entered 2012 as one of a handful of preseason Heisman contenders, had averaged just four yards per carry and had totaled just eight touchdowns after totaling 57 in the previous 26 games.
On this day, though, the old Ball was back as the senior rushed for 247 yards on 29 carries and three touchdowns in the rout. The three touchdowns give Ball 72 for his career — 66 rushing, six receiving — which sets a Big Ten record for total touchdowns.