Ron Dayne ran for 190 yards on Saturday, and few of them came free of charge.
"He had a lot of yards after contact. He moved the pile a lot. There weren't any creases for him to get big gains. He earned all his yards today," coach Barry Alvarez said after his big fullback keyed No. 9 Wisconsin's 37-3 victory over Illinois.
Dayne, who carried 39 times, ran for three touchdowns, giving him 45 for his career, one more than Billy Marek's old school record set in 1973-75.
Wisconsin improved to 4-0 in the Big Ten and is 7-0 overall for the first time since 1912.
"I feel a lot stronger and the line is really coming to play," Dayne said. "I felt like it was the best I've played this year because of the fact I had to work for it."
It was Dayne's sixth consecutive 100-yard game this year, and the massive tailback proved nearly unstoppable for the Illini (2-5, 1-3), often dragging two or three defenders as he racked up yards after being hit.
Wisconsin's dominant running game also allowed the Badgers to wear down the Illini defense by controlling the ball for almost 38 minutes to Illinois' 22.
"Our defense played exceptionally well. We came up with turnovers, and continually gave our offense the football. When you do that with a guy like Ron coming at you, you can really wear a defense down," Alvarez said.
| Wisconsin's Ron Dayne is brought down by Illinois' Tony Francis after an 11-yard gain in the first quarter. (AP) |
Illinois got a taste of what was in store on the Badgers' first possession.
Dayne rushed eight times for 41 yards in a 15-play, 53-yard drive that ended with a 46-yard field goal by Matt Davenport. The possession ate 6:16 off the clock.
Dayne's first touchdown came after Illinois receiver Larry Davis fumbled a 6-yard pass from Kurt Kittner with 6:22 left in the half. The ball was recovered by Jamar Fletcher at the Illini 26 and Dayne had runs of 9, 4, 5 and 8 yards to make it 10-0.
Illinois got only two first downs in the first half, rushed for minus-3 yards, had the ball for only 7:13 to the Badgers' 22:47 and finished with 40 offensive yards compared to the Badgers' 226.
"We just self-destructed and lost the game," Illinois running back Rocky Harvey said.
Dayne's 1-yard touchdown run increased the Badgers' lead to 17-0 six minutes into the third quarter following a 10-play, 56-yard drive. He ran three yards to cap a five-play, 38-yard drive at the end of the third quarter.
Two plays later, Kittner's pass was intercepted by Fletcher and returned 22 yards to give Wisconsin a 30-0 lead. Dayne's backup, Eddie Faulkner, added a 5-yard touchdown run with just under 10 minutes left in the game.
Fletcher said it was not hard for the Badgers to get motivated for the game even though they were the clear favorites.
"Good players always get psyched up and go out and play their `A' game," Fletcher said. "Any team can upset you if you are not prepared."
Illinois coach Ron Turner said his team had no chance of beating the Badgers after turning the ball over four times and being outgained 380 yards to 194.
"We didn't block anybody. We didn't throw. We didn't catch. We didn't do a thing," Turner said. "The offense stunk. It was totally disgusting."
Illinois avoided being shut out for the second consecutive game -- it lost to No. 1 Ohio State 41-0 last week -- with a 38-yard field goal by Neil Rackers following a 12-play, 40-yard drive in the fourth quarter.
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