Wisconsin’s quest to win Big Ten title in reach

Wisconsin was devastated by a loss at Michigan State in the Big
Ten opener, fearing the setback stunted its chances of winning the
conference championship.

The Badgers bounced back mentally and physically to win six
straight games – including a 48-28 win Saturday at Michigan – and
have a chance to for at least a share of their first Big Ten title
since 1999.

If the Badgers beat Northwestern on Saturday at home, they’ll do

”I did share with those guys that it’s in your hands and
there’s very few times in your life that everything you want is in
your hands,” coach Bret Bielema recalled. ”We just have to handle
our business.”

With a win, Wisconsin likely will win the conference’s three-way
tiebreaker – via the BCS standings – and earn a trip to the Rose
Bowl if Ohio State beats Michigan at home and Michigan State wins
at Penn State to also finish with one Big Ten loss.

The Badgers moved up one spot to No. 5 in the Associated Press
poll, but that isn’t a factor in the BCS standings.

Bielema said he’s proud of his players, who figured out how
special this season could be after losing to the Spartans.

”They’re a special group,” he said. ”They believe in
something bigger than themselves.”

Wisconsin’s offense is so big and talented it doesn’t seem to
matter who is running the ball.

Montee Ball and James White combined for 354 yards rushing and
six touchdowns against the Wolverines, easily making up for the
loss of injured star John Clay for the second straight week.

”It’s a pretty good feeling when you’re All-Big Ten player is
sitting on the bench,” Bielema said.

While the running game justifiably was lauded for an impressive
performance at the Big House, quarterback Scott Tolzien did his

Tolzien completed his first 13 passes – 24 straight, including
the end of last week’s 83-20 win against Indiana – and finished 14
of 15 for 201 yards with an interception.

”If there is anyone playing better than him right now, I’d like
to know who it is,” Bielema said. ”He had unbelievable

The entire Badgers team has, too, since losing Oct. 2 to the

”They took the bad of that day and turned it to good,” Bielema