INDIANAPOLIS — As confetti rained down on elated Wisconsin and solemn Nebraska Saturday night and Jim Delany exited into the bowels of Lucas Oil Stadium flanked by security, U2’s “Beautiful Day” serenaded what was left of the crowd that witnessed the shellacking posing at the Big Ten’s second-ever championship game.
“The sky falls and you feel like it’s a beautiful day.”
The Badgers, 7-5 on the season and 4-4 in conference play, bullied the 11-1 Huskers to the tune of 539 rushing yards en route to a 70-31 win. Wisconsin, only spending the weekend in Indy because Ohio State and Penn State — the teams who handed the Badgers their last two regular-season losses and were the top two teams in the Leaders Division — were banned from postseason play.
Standing on the awards podium, Delany, the Big Ten’s head of state, surely must have been wondering what a difference a year makes as he shook the hands of former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, current Head Badger Bret Bielema and Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, the game’s MVP.
In the inaugural Big Ten championship game last December, Wisconsin outlasted Michigan State 42-39 in an exhilarating affair before an announced crowd of 64,152.
Saturday night, 41,260 observed a fitting end of to a season that saw Delany’s conference take a beating, particularly during a nightmare non-conference slate.
Three Big Ten teams dropped home tilts to Mid-American Conference squads: Penn State vs. Ohio, Iowa vs. Central Michigan and Indiana vs. Ball State.