No. 8 game of 2012: Badgers roll Huskers in Indy

BTN/BTN2Go is airing the top 10 football games of 2012, and the countdown has reached No. 8: Wisconsin’s memorable 70-31 victory over Nebraska in the Big Ten title game. Watch the game at 8 p.m. ET tonight, and the next seven games at the same time through Aug. 11. Until then, relive the track meet in this post.

[ RELATED: Check out our previous top 10 games of 2012 ]

WISCONSIN 70, NEBRASKA 31

STAT LEADERS
Leading passer: Taylor Martinez, 17-33, 184 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT
Leading rusher: Melvin Gordon, 9 car., 216 yards, 1 TD
Leading receiver: Jamal Turner, 5 rec., 63 yards

Could this bizarre 2012 Big Ten season had ended any differently than this? Of course not. Wisconsin’s 70-31 pummeling of Nebraska put a fitting punctuation mark on a season that didn’t go by script. In fact, it went way off script.

The Big Ten’s best team—12-0 Ohio State—couldn’t play in the Big Ten title game or go to a bowl because of probation. But it was given a trophy for winning the Leaders Division.

Penn State overcame long odds playing with a depleted roster and battling through an 0-2 start to finish 8-4 and in second place in the Leaders Division. But, like Ohio State, probation ended the Nittany Lions year at the end of the regular season.

[ AP: Ball helps Badgers rush past No. 14 Nebraska | AP: Ball sets NCAA record rushing TDs ]

But the last team standing is Wisconsin, which entered tonight’s game with a 7-5 overall record and 4-4 Big Ten mark—losers of two in a row and three of their last four games. Didn’t matter.

So, that means the third-best team in the Leaders Division—and sixth-best in the Big Ten–will go to the Rose Bowl, marking the first time a team ever has gone to the “Granddaddy Of Them All” with five losses.

[ RELATED: Line up, naysayers: Badgers off to Rose Bowl ]

“To have three Big Ten championships says it all,” said Badger coach Bret Bielema. “This one means a lot.”

The win earned Wisconsin its third Rose Bowl in a row. The last Big Ten team to do that was Michigan from 1976-78. The Badgers will face Stanford, as Bielema will look for his first Rose Bowl triumph after losing to TCU after the 2010 season and to Oregon after last year. In fact, a Rose Bowl triumph is about the only thing missing from Bielema’s sparkling resume. The last time the Badgers won the Rose Bowl was after the 1999 season against … Stanford.

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About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Ed Crawford on 8/4/2013 @ 4:29pm EDT Said:

The main thing is Michigan & that ohio school have not been in the championship game yet! Iowa had a bad year last year and lost to Michigan for the first time in 4 years. They need to turn that around quickly and win the division. You can’t just give up the whole thing to Mich. & ohio every year.