CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Columnist Tom Oates assesses the University of Wisconsin football team's performance in a 28-17 victory at Illinois on Saturday.
Montee Ball put the team on his back in the second half, rushing for 164 of his 224 yards. Despite some personnel shuffles, the line exerted its will on Illinois. UW didn't let Illinois' pass-rushing ends dictate the action.
Illinois moved the ball freely in the first half, but UW allowed only 77 yards and forced four turnovers in the second. Antonio Fenelus' interception was a big-time play. Aaron Henry reacted perfectly on a reverse.
Special teams: A-minus
Brad Nortman's 74-yard punt to the 3 changed field position at a critical time. The punt team had a block called when the Illinois punter fumbled and therefore was in perfect position to make a game-turning play.
The Badgers had an "F" going after sleep-walking through the first half, but they caught a few breaks, made a few more and toughed out a road victory over a rugged though mistake-prone opponent. Bring on Penn State.