Quite literally, Wisconsin was the third-best team in the Big Ten’s Leaders division in 2012, finishing off an up-and-down regular season with three overtime losses in the last four games. Just as literally, the only reason the Badgers tripped into a spot in the conference championship game was because the two teams that finished ahead of them in the standings — Ohio State and Penn State — are ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions.
That was the dominant storyline woven into the run-up to the league’s title game, a fact that, with each passing day, dug further under the skin of the defending B1G champions.
Unfortunately for Nebraska, the Cornhuskers felt the full force of UW’s pent-up frustrations over the talk.
There are woodsheddings, then there are eviscerations that take place inside a woodshed, the latter of which aptly applies to the 70-31 beating Wisconsin laid on No. 14 Nebraska. The beating avenged the Badgers’ 30-27 loss to the Cornhuskers earlier in the season.
The one-sided nature of the game was never more evident than with a quick glance at the rushing side of the statistical ledger.
On 50 carries, a staggering 10.9 yards per carry. Three times UW scored on runs of 56 yards or more — by three different players. Two of those players — Melvin Gordon (216) and Montee Ball (202) — topped 200 yards, while the other — James White (109) — went over 100 and scored a title-game record four touchdowns on the ground. Gordon, incidentally, carried the ball just nine times in busting through the 200-yard ceiling.
The 539 yards allowed by the Cornhuskers was a school record.
Add it all up, and UW won its second consecutive Big Ten title game and earned its third-straight berth in the Rose Bowl. After back-to-back losses in those trips to Pasadena, the Badgers, who will face Pac-12 champion Stanford, will again be looking for their first win in the Grandaddy of Them All since the 1999 season.