University of Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema insisted he wasn't trying to run out the clock late in the first half on Saturday against Indiana at Memorial Stadium.
The Badgers got the ball at their own 25-yard line with 2 minutes, 25 seconds left in the half and ran five straight running plays.
"We kept running it, because we actually thought that was a pretty good shot at scoring," Bielema said. "We were like one guy away on some of those runs to making it happen."
On this day, when UW rushed for a school-record 564 yards, Bielema might have been right.
Sure enough, on third-and-16, backup tailback James White took a handoff and started to his right. Let him provide the play-by-play after that point.
"The lineman pulled around and turned up quick," White said. "I tried to follow them. The hole was clogged. I was going to try and bounce it around to the left side, but somebody was waiting for me. I just turned my head straight and there was a big hole right in front of me."
White made two sharp cuts, squirted out of a pile and was in the clear. He easily made safety Greg Heban miss in the open field and turned it into one of the most amazing 69-yard touchdown runs you will ever see.
UW struggled to move the ball in the second quarter and the Hoosiers had scored to pull within 17-7 on the previous series. The play helped ignite the Badgers to their easy 62-14 victory.
"That was a huge momentum swing," Bielema said. "Kind of a dagger."
Near the end of the run, quarterback Curt Phillips was escorting White, with nobody to block.
"I was just trying not to get in his way," Phillips said. "A lot of times you'll see (quarterbacks) go out there and try to block and end up getting in the way. I was just trying to steer clear."
Added White: "He said he didn't know where I was going, he didn't really know what to do. He was gonig to make a block but I was able to get through there without (Phillips) making a block."
Intact O-line powers rushing record
UW's 564 yards rushing eclipsed the school single-game record set against Northwestern in 1974 by a UW team that included tailback Billy Marek, fullback Ken Starch and future NFL offensive linemen Dennis Lick and Terry Stieve.
"It feels good to be (mentioned) with those names," center Travis Frederick said. "To know that we did something like that today is something special. I certainly give credit to everybody on the offense."
Modesty prevented Frederick from saying it all started with the offensive line. And UW's domination of Indiana started with the interior blockers controlling Indiana's all-senior defensive tackle rotation of Adam Replogle, Larry Black and Nicholas Sliger.
"The core of their defense was those three inside defensive tackles," Frederick said. "We knew that if we were going to have success, we needed to neutralize those guys and get the running backs to the second and third level. I think that's exactly what we did."
One reason the Badgers were able to do that was because their line was back intact. Left tackle Ricky Wagner returned after missing two games with a sprained knee, which allowed Ryan Groy to move back to left guard.
Bielema said the key to the line's dominant performance was knocking people off the ball and communicating effectively. Both were easier with the five starters back together.
"It's the same formula we've had when we've had successful running games," Groy said. "It's getting on people, it's staying on people, it's being assignment-sound and it's finishing your blocks."
Clamping down on Hoosiers' passing game
Indiana came in leading the Big Ten in passing, averaging 295.4 yards per game, and with a hot quarterback in Cam Coffman.
But the Badgers' pass defense rendered both ineffective. Coffman completed 25 of 46 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted twice.
UW senior cornerbacks Devin Smith and Marcus Cromartie led the defensive effort. They were aggressive against the myriad of short passes thrown by Indiana's up-tempo, no-huddle offense — and tackled surely.
"This was a very unique plan because they really attacked you from outside in," Bielema said. "Most teams will go the exact opposite. So, it was different thinking for our defense.
"I felt it was great explanation (by the defensive coaches). Our DNA at Wisconsin, we always talk about the D-line and O-line have to win the game for us, win the line of scrimmage. Really, this game was going to be about corner play and linebacker play. Those guys did a tremendous job."
Ball nears NCAA touchdown record
UW tailback Montee Ball's three touchdowns in the game left him with 77 for his career. He passed Ricky Williams of Texas into second place in the NCAA record books, trailing only Travis Prentice (78), from Miami (Ohio).
Ball, who was held without a touchdown in the last game against Michigan State, now has a chance to break the record at home next week against Ohio State.
"I'm definitely going to make sure I don't think about it much and make sure I stay leveled and grounded, to make sure I do what I've got to do," he said.
Ball finished with 198 rushing yards, while averaging 7.3 yards per carry.
"A couple of those runs were out of his mind," Bielema said. "He was just breaking tackles, staying alive, elephant crawl with one arm on the ground. He was just possessed. I know he wants to make a strong push to get back to New York (as a Heisman Trophy finalist)."