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Crowning achievement: Badgers roll to Big Ten title

Badger Gameday: Northwestern
5 Wisconsin 70, Northwestern 23
Camp Randall Stadium • Madison, Wis.

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
 Northwestern 3 14 6 0 23
 Wisconsin 14 35 21 0 70
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• Attendance: 80,011
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 Statistical Leaders
 • Rushing: Montee Ball - 20 Car, 178 Yds, 4 TD
 • Passing: Scott Tolzien - 15-19, 230 Yds, 4 TD
 • Receiving: Nick Toon - 5 Rec, 62 Yds, 2 TD
 • Defense: J.J. Watt - 7 Tkl, 3.0 TFL, Sk, 2 FF, 3 QBH
 Scoring Summary
 First Quarter
WIS 12:30 Ball 32 TD run (Welch kick)
WIS 8:02 Ball 1 TD run (Welch kick)
NW 2:55 Demos 47 FG
 Second Quarter
WIS 12:35 Ball 2 TD run (Welch kick)
WIS 9:03 Gilreath 18 TD pass from Tolzien (Welch kick)
NW 5:50 Watkins 6 TD run (Demos kick)
WIS 3:14 Kendricks 29 TD pass from Tolzien (Welch kick)
WIS 1:33 Toon 11 TD pass from Tolzien (Welch kick)
NW 1:20 Mark 94 kick return TD (Demos kick)
WIS 0:14 Toon 11 TD pass from Tolzien (Welch kick)
 Third Quarter
WIS 10:18 Ball 44 TD run (Welch kick)
WIS 6:09 White 16 TD run (Welch kick)
NW 4:11 Dunsmore 20 TD pass from Watkins (kick blocked)
NW 0:02 Henry 50 INT return TD (Welch kick)
 Fourth Quarter
 No scoring
 Stats at a Glance
 • First Downs 17 29
 • Total Offensive Yards 284 559
 • Passing Yards 123 230
 • Rushing Yards 161 329
 • Penalties-Yards 2-17 2-25
 • Turnovers 7 0
 • Punts-Avg. 4-42.5 5-39.6
 • Punt Returns-Avg. 3-2.7 0-0.0
 • Kick Returns-Avg. 11-29.5 5-29.0
 • 3rd-Down Conversions 4-12 5-11
 • 4th-Down Conversions 0-0 0-0
 • Time of Possession 22:45 37:15
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Nov. 27, 2010

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MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin fans had seen their share of fireworks long before the pyrotechnics show started high above Camp Randall Stadium.

The Big Ten Conference championship trophy, however, was a sight for sore eyes.

It's a prize the fifth-ranked Badgers secured for the first time since 1999 by running past Northwestern in the teams' regular-season finale, 70-23, in front of a raucous crowd of 80,011.

Wisconsin's seventh-consecutive win -- which came in a high-scoring fashion that's becoming a trend for the Badgers -- allowed UW to grab a share of the conference crown along with Ohio State and Michigan, with each team finishing 7-1 in league play.

"It's a championship. It's a symbol that you are one of the elite, not only in our conference, but also in this country," UW head coach Bret Bielema said. "The way these guys battle and the way they have resolve is just phenomenal."

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Resolve fueled remarkable title run
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The Badgers (11-1 overall) hadn't scored 70 points in a game since 1915 before doing so against Austin Peay in September. Now, they've accomplished the feat three times in 2010.

UW piled on the points again by rolling up 559 yards of total offense and scoring, at one point, on seven consecutive possessions.

"I really believe that right now, the way we're playing, we're playing as good as anybody in the country," Bielema said. "Over the last couple days, you were able to watch people play all around this country ... As a football coach, I can sit back and say that we can play with anybody and play with confidence and keep moving forward."

Sophomore tailback Montee Ball paced the Badgers on the ground by becoming just the second UW player to rush for four touchdowns in consecutive games, joining Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne. Ball churned up 178 yards along the way, averaging a fantastic 8.9 yards per carry.

Senior quarterback Scott Tolzien was just as good through the air, completing 15 of 19 passes for 230 yards and four touchdowns. His 250.1 pass efficiency rating ranks as the fifth-best single-game total in school history.

Freshman tailback James White did more damage by rushing for 137 yards and a touchdown, while junior wide receiver Nick Toon hauled in five passes for 62 yards and a pair of scores.

As potent as UW's offense was, the unit could thank the Badgers' defense for setting the table.

Wisconsin forced turnovers on Northwestern's first three drives and had seven takeaways in all, including four interceptions. Junior Aaron Henry claimed the fourth and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown that put a cap on the Badgers' scoring.

Junior defensive end J.J. Watt could share credit for three of the Badgers' picks with three quarterback hurries to go with three tackles for loss and a pair of forced fumbles. He also blocked an extra-point attempt, his third blocked kick of the season.

Mike Taylor, Jay Valai and Antonio Fenelus also had interceptions for UW.

The Badgers wasted little time in stepping on the gas. They marched 74 yards for a score on their first drive, with Ball breaking loose to take it in from 32 yards out.  After a three-and-out on UW's next series,  the Badgers recovered a fumble at the Northwestern 13 yard line to set up a 1-yard scoring plunge by Ball and make it a 14-0 lead.

Northwestern forced another three-and-out and then got on the board with a 47-yard Stefan Demos field goal, but it was all Badgers from there.

Ball opened the second quarter by finding the end zone for a third time from 2 yards out before the Badgers went to the air.

On their next drive, Tolzien hooked up with David Gilreath on an 18-yard touchdown pass, followed by a 29-yard TD connection with tight end Lance Kendricks once the Badgers got the ball back.

UW's next two drives both ended with 11-yard scoring tosses from Tolzien to Toon and -- just like that -- it was a 49-17 halftime lead for the Badgers.

Wisconsin scored on each of its last five first-half possessions, with the final four averaging just 4.5 plays, 42.3 yards and 1 minute, 33 seconds of clock. Thanks to five first-half takeaways, five of the Badgers' 10 possessions in the half began in Northwestern territory.

There was no slowing down out of the locker room, either. Ball broke free on a 44-yard touchdown run to open the second half and White found the end zone from 16 yards on UW's next series to make it a 63-17 lead with six minutes left in the third quarter.

UW outscored the Wildcats, 49-14, while rattling off their seven consecutive touchdowns.

Now the Badgers await word of their bowl game fate, which will come down to the Bowl Championship Series standings because of the three-way tie atop the Big Ten standings.  The team ranked highest in the final BCS standings will earn the conference's Rose Bowl bid.

UW was the league's highest-rated team in the BCS heading into Saturday at No. 7, with Ohio State No. 8 and Michigan State at No. 10.

"Wherever it is, this is going to be a special bowl-prep, and our kids will enjoy every day of it," Bielema said. "Wherever we end of being and whoever we end up playing, it will be fun."

No matter their bowl destination, however, the Badgers will relish the program's 12th Big Ten title.

"I did tell the guys in the locker room that we didn't need to wait 10 years to repeat this day," Bielema said. "I think we have some good youth in the program, and we're excited about the future of Wisconsin football."

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