BLOOMINGTON – Jonathan Taylor set up No. 4 Wisconsin with a flurry of inside jabs Saturday. Alec Ingold delivered the scoring punches.
It was a devastating combination.
Taylor ran for 183 yards and one score and Ingold scored three touchdowns on five touches to lead the Badgers to a 45-17 victory at Indiana, keeping them in the shrinking group of unbeaten teams.
“We wanted to come out and set the tone,” said Taylor, who had a 45-yard run on his first carry after being listed as questionable all week with a bad ankle. “That was the main idea, just coming out and setting the tone.”
It wasn’t as easy or as impressive as the final score indicated.
All that really mattered, though, was Wisconsin (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten, No. 9 CFP) stayed in the playoff hunt by extending the nation’s second-longest winning streak to 10 and its school record of consecutive victories over conference foes to 12.
This victory gives the Badgers an opportunity to take an even bigger step next weekend. Beat Iowa at home and they’ll clinch the West Division title and their fifth trip in seven years to the Big Ten Championship game.
Perhaps that will show the selection committee Wisconsin is a legitimate contender.
For now, beating the Hoosiers (3-6, 0-6) with their traditional script will have to suffice.
Just 16 minutes into the game, the Badgers trailed 10-0.
But with Taylor gashing the Indiana defense, Bradrick Shaw and Garrett Groshek filling in and Ingold doing the dirty work, Indiana wore down and eventually broke down.
Wisconsin took the lead by scoring 24 consecutive points and finally seized control when Taylor, the Big Ten leader in yards rushing and TD runs, broke free for a 32-yard touchdown.
“He’s just really good,” Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook said.
Indiana cut the deficit to 24-17 with 4:12 left in the third quarter, but then the Badgers’ defense started throwing its weight around.
Joe Ferguson picked off passes on each of Indiana’s next two possessions, and Wisconsin took advantage of the short field with 1-yard scoring runs from Ingold both times to make it 38-17.
“We played a great football team today, but when you’re minus in the takeaway ratio you’re not going to win,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said. “To me, that’s what it came down to.”
The Badgers finished with three takeaways. Hornibrook was 13 of 20 for 158 yards with two TDs and one interception. The Badgers held the ball for 39 minutes, 23 seconds and were 8 of 15 on third down.
Wisconsin returns home to face Iowa next Saturday in the first of back-to-back home games while Indiana travels to Illinois next Saturday, seeking its third straight win in the series.