BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Jonathan Taylor set up No. 4 Wisconsin with a flurry of inside jabs Saturday. Alec Ingold delivered the scoring punches.
It was a devastating combination.
Taylor ran for 183 yards and one score and Ingold scored three touchdowns on five touches to lead the Badgers to a 45-17 victory at Indiana, keeping them in the shrinking group of unbeaten teams.
“We wanted to come out and set the tone,” said Taylor, who had a 45-yard run on his first carry after being listed as questionable all week with a bad ankle. “That was the main idea, just coming out and setting the tone.”
It wasn’t as easy or as impressive as the final score indicated.
All that really mattered, though, was Wisconsin (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten, No. 9 CFP) stayed in the playoff hunt by extending the nation’s second-longest winning streak to 10 and its school record of consecutive victories over conference foes to 12.
This victory gives the Badgers an opportunity to take an even bigger step next weekend. Beat Iowa at home and they’ll clinch the West Division title and their fifth trip in seven years to the Big Ten Championship game.
Perhaps that will show the selection committee Wisconsin is a legitimate contender.
For now, beating the Hoosiers (3-6, 0-6) with their traditional script will have to suffice.
Just 16 minutes into the game, the Badgers trailed 10-0.
But with Taylor gashing the Indiana defense, Bradrick Shaw and Garrett Groshek filling in and Ingold doing the dirty work, Indiana wore down and eventually broke down.
Wisconsin took the lead by scoring 24 consecutive points and finally seized control when Taylor, the Big Ten leader in yards rushing and TD runs, broke free for a 32-yard touchdown.
“He’s just really good,” Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook said.
Indiana cut the deficit to 24-17 with 4:12 left in the third quarter, but then the Badgers’ defense started throwing its weight around.
Joe Ferguson picked off passes on each of Indiana’s next two possessions, and Wisconsin took advantage of the short field with 1-yard scoring runs from Ingold both times to make it 38-17.
“We played a great football team today, but when you’re minus in the takeaway ratio you’re not going to win,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said. “To me, that’s what it came down to.”
Wisconsin: The Badgers added another win over an unranked team to their resume. But Wisconsin still needs help to make the playoff.
Indiana: After trailing 24-17 heading into the fourth quarter, the Hoosiers added yet another chapter to a season filled with frustrating close calls . They’re 0-3 against the top-five this season and 0-5 against the Top 25 this season.
Wisconsin: The Badgers finished with three takeaways. Hornibrook was 13 of 20 for 158 yards with two TDs and one interception. The Badgers held the ball for 39 minutes, 23 seconds and were 8 of 15 on third down.
Indiana: Richard Lagow started in place of Ramsey and finished 20 of 34 for 226 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. The Hoosiers had 21 carries for 40 yards. Simmie Cobbs Jr., Whop Philyor and Luke Timian each had five catches.
The momentum swung midway through the second quarter when a replay reversal gave the ball to Wisconsin at Indiana’s 21-yard line.
Initially, running back Morgan Ellison was ruled down by contact. But the call was reversed and the Indiana bench was subsequently called for unsportsmanlike conduct, moving the ball to the 11. Wisconsin scored its first points two plays later.
Wisconsin: It’s hard to imagine how the unbeaten Badgers move up in the eyes of voters — or the selection committee — unless or until the other top teams start losing.
Indiana: The Hoosiers have the longest Top 25 drought of any power-conference school and that streak will remain intact. They haven’t been ranked since September 1994.
Wisconsin: Ingold started in place of Austin Ramesh, who did not make the trip. Inside linebacker Chris Orr (left leg) left in the first quarter and leading receiver Quintez Cephus (lower right leg) left in the third quarter. Neither returned.
Indiana: Starting quarterback Peyton Ramsey sat out with a right knee injury. But the Hoosiers escaped another major injury when receiver Luke Timian got hit around the head as he was trying to field a second-quarter punt. Timian left briefly but later returned.
Wisconsin: Returns home to face Iowa next Saturday in the first of back-to-back home games.
Indiana: Travels to Illinois next Saturday, seeking its third straight win in the series.