Aside from Ron Dayne, Wisconsin's offensive line also looks like a decent Heisman Trophy candidate.
Behind an overpowering performance by his mammoth, veteran offensive line, Dayne ran for 167 of No. 17 Wisconsin's school-record 705 yards of total offense. The Big Ten's career rushing leader looked as dominant as ever, but he had plenty of help.
"That's our credo: Keep hammering on them and good things will happen," said left tackle and Outland Trophy short-lister Chris McIntosh. "As long as we're blocking well up front, that's when Ronny can do what he does."
Dayne aggravated a dislocated finger late in the first half, and Wisconsin held him out as a precautionary measure. Dayne ran for two touchdowns, including a 57-yard rumble late in the second quarter that put Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) up 38-0 at halftime in its homecoming game.
"I think teams start to divide right now and take a step. You get better, or you get worse," said Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, who watched the game from the press box. "I thought it was important for us to make that move right now and take a step forward."
Indiana's depleted defense was helpless against Wisconsin's strong ground attack, and freshman quarterback Brooks Bollinger was 9-of-10 for 162 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game with a minor hip bruise in the second quarter. By then, the Badgers' lead was insurmountable.
The Hoosiers (3-4, 2-2) lost star defensive end Adewale Ogunleye for the season last week with a knee injury. But he might not have made much difference athe Badgers' line, whose five starters average 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds, pushed Indiana around. Wisconsin had 31 first downs.
"We didn't understand what we were up against," Indiana coach Cam Cameron said. "They came out and played like they were playing for the Big Ten championship, and we didn't handle it that well."
The Badgers didn't punt in the game and failed to score on just two drives, both in the second half. Wisconsin was up 45-0 early in the third, and Indiana twice couldn't score inside Wisconsin's 20. The Badgers outgained Indiana 401-112 in the first half alone.
Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle El had a horrible day against the Badgers' smothering defense, which also has improved its play during Wisconsin's three straight conference wins. The Hoosiers had offensive opportunities, but the Badgers usually came up with a big play to stymie them.
Randle El was held to 28 rushing yards 72 below his average and was 10-of-25 passing, with most of his deep throws missing their targets by several yards. He was replaced by Tommy Jones in the fourth quarter.
"Nothing went well," Randle El said. "We couldn't get anything going on offense, and we couldn't stop them on defense."
The Badgers had three rushes longer than 50 yards, including backup tailback Michael Bennett's 73-yard TD run in the third quarter that made it 45-0. Bennett ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries.
"I give my offensive line all the credit in the world," Bennett said. "(On the 73-yard run) I saw a big hole open up, like a semi truck moving a car out of the way. I saw an open field."
Alvarez underwent surgery two weeks ago to remove infection from his pulverized knee, and he watched last week's game against Minnesota from his hospital bed. With his 65th career win, Alvarez tied Phil King as Wisconsin's winningest coach.
Dayne, who has 1,020 yards on the year, joined Amos Lawrence of North Carolina, Tony Dorsett of Pittsburgh and Denvis Manns of New Mexico State as the only players with four 1,000-yard rushing seasons. But the blowout further hurt Dayne's chances to catch Ricky Williams for the major-college rushing record.
Dayne now needs 697 yards in Wisconsin's final four games, or 174.3 per game, to break Williams' record. The Badgers finish the year against Michigan State, Northwestern, Purdue and Iowa.
Bollinger was hurt in the second quarter and left with Wisconsin up 24-0, but Dayne ran 69 yards on the Badgers' next play from scrimmage, and Chad Kuhns scored on a 5-yard run on the next.
Wisconsin continued to pour it on in the fourth quarter, converting on a fourth-and-7 from midfield that led to a touchdown run by Marcus Carpenter.
Even when things went right for the Hoosiers, they went wrong. Indiana's Joslin Goodman intercepted backup quarterback Scott Kavanagh in Wisconsin territory in the final minute of the frst half, but the play was wiped out on a defensive offsides call.
"We really stopped (Randle El), and we knew if we stop this guy, they don't really have that much else," defensive end John Favret said.
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