The nation's top-ranked defense joined in the fun Saturday as the Wisconsin Badgers got touchdowns via the pass, the run and on fumble and punt returns in a 38-7 thumping of Northwestern.
Ron Dayne ran over the Wildcats for 168 yards on 22 carries, Mike Samuel threw for a touchdown and ran for one and freshman punt returner Nick Davis and sophomore defensive back Ryan Marks also got into the end zone for No. 14 Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten).
"Our kicking and special teams again did a tremendous job," said coach Barry Alvarez, who became the Badgers' winningest coach in the modern era with 53 victories.
"They set the tempo, along with the defense. ... They both played very well until our offense got a rhythm."
The Badgers stretched their shutout streak to 13 quarters before Nick Kreinbrink's 46-yard touchdown pass to diving freshman Sam Simmons with four seconds left.
The Wildcats (2-2, 0-1) blew their only other chance when Brian Gowins shanked a 40-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter after left tackle Bryan LaBelle's 15-yard penalty for a late hit stalled the drive.
Samuel ran for a 1-yard TD and threw a 60-yard scoring pass to Chris Chambers after Ryan Marks' 8-yard fumble return for a TD as the Badgers built a 21-0 halftime lead.
"He's a more patient runner," linebacker Barry Gardner said. "He waits to find the hole. When he sees it, he hits it hard. He's a man of action."
So is Davis, who returned J.J. Standring's punt 68 yards for a 38-0 lead.
Tim Rosga, who recovered Gowins' 18-yard onside kick to start the game and returned it to the Northwestern 37, broke through and blocked Standring's firspunt, and Marks recovered it and ran eight yards for the touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
"Tim Rosga is awfully valuable to this football team," Alvarez said. "That punt block was designed for him, but you still have to execute and you still have to take it off the kickers' foot."
Because of Rosga's block, the Wildcats were in a kick-protect formation when Standring punted out of his own end zone early in the fourth quarter, affecting the downfield coverage.
Standring quickly found himself the last line of defense and flailed at Davis, who faked him out at the 20.
"Kickers are taught to grab cloth and wait on the other guys to show up. We're just supposed to slow them down," Standring said.
But Standring didn't get a hand on him.
Vitaly Pisetsky got five touchbacks on seven kickoffs, and the other two were returned to the 7 and the 14.
"I couldn't be more pleased with our kicking game," Alvarez said. "They're going to help us in some tight games."
The Badgers moved 76 yards in 16 plays to make it 14-0 on Samuel's option keeper on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
After free safety Jason Doering intercepted a pass from Hoffman intended for D'Wayne Bates at the Wisconsin 12, the Badgers struck again.
Dayne's 26-yard run put the Badgers at their 40, and Samuel dropped back and pump-faked. Cornerback Harold Blackmon bit, allowing Chambers to break free downfield.
Blackmon recovered but missed the tackle at the Northwestern 25, and linebacker Conrad Emmerich did the same at the 20 as Chambers cut back inside for a 60-touchdown and a 21-0 advantage.
Bates caught seven passes for 96 yards, surpassing Richard Buchanan as the Wildcats' career leader in receiving yards with 2,499, 25 more than Buchanan had from 1988-90.
But with a shaky offensive line and 17 tackles for loss, Bates was about all Northwestern had.
"Jerry Rice wouldn't have made any more catches than Bates did today," Wildcats coach Gary Barnett said.
Alvarez (53-41-4) surpassed Milt Bruhn as the winningest coach in Wisconsin's modern history. Phil King had 65 victories, but he coached against a variety of high schools, small colleges and medical schools at the turn of the century.
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