MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A couple of missed opportunities in the first half. A tough penalty. A shanked punt.
Illinois coach Tim Beckman said he needs his team to shrug it off when things don't go the Illini's way. Instead, the misfortune piled up in a 31-14 loss to Wisconsin on Saturday.
"We've just got to be able to respond when something doesn't occur the way we want it to occur," Beckman said. "Things just seem to snowball on us. We've got to learn to react in a positive way and keep on fighting for four quarters."
Wisconsin (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) came into Saturday with an offense that ranked last in the conference overall and was putting up just 56 yards rushing a game. But the Badgers found ways to capitalize on the Illinois miscues, as Joel Stave threw for two touchdowns and Montee Ball rushed for 116 yards on 19 carries.
Wisconsin rushed for 173 yards, 96 in the fourth quarter.
The offensive struggles of the Illini (2-4, 0-2) continued, however, with quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase the only positive. He finished with 178 yards passing and 84 rushing as Illinois gained 287 yards overall.
Scheelhaase ran for a 5-yard touchdown in the first quarter and threw for an 8-yard touchdown to Ryan Lankford to make it 24-14 late in the game.
But Jared Abbrederis fielded the ensuing onside kick, and Ball scored his second touchdown to snuff out any hopes of an Illinois comeback.
Ball has 69 TDs (63 rushing, six receiving) in his career, nine shy of tying the FBS record held by Travis Prentice of Miami of Ohio from 1996-99.
Abbrederis caught Stave's 59-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter that put Wisconsin up 24-7 and gave him his third consecutive game with more than 100 receiving yards since returning from an injury. He finished with seven catches for 117 yards.
"It was a different feeling this season," Ball said. "But I've always been behind my offensive line and I knew they would get the job done. I knew I would get my chance and I wanted to make sure I wasn't going to let them down. My job is to make guys miss, and I did it."
The Badgers capitalized on a pair of Illinois miscues for their other second-half points.
With the game tied at 7-7, Stave hit Derek Watt for 26 yards, and Illinois defensive back Terry Hawthorne was called for a personal foul on the hit, putting the ball at the Illinois 33.
Following the collision, Hawthorne lay motionless on the field and was put on a stretcher and taken off in an ambulance, giving a thumbs up as he was loaded into the vehicle.