MADISON, Wis. — Russell Wilson took a brief break from throwing touchdown passes to catch one from his running back.
For No. 4 Wisconsin, it was another chapter in the brief-but-growing legend of Russellmania.
Wilson caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Montee Ball on a trick play, then spent much of the afternoon handing to Ball for big gains as Wisconsin beat Indiana 59-7 on Saturday.
"I knew I was going to catch it," Wilson said. "I was hoping Montee would make a great throw like he's been doing all week. We were 10 for 10 during the week on it, so I knew it was going to be a touchdown."
The biggest play of the day went to Wilson, who is being promoted as a Heisman Trophy candidate by the Badgers (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten). And it wouldn't have happened without Ball – who wasn't happy with the throw he made in the game.
"It was terrible," Ball said. "Because he was wide open and I was nervous. I was nervous when I let the ball go. But he did a great job of tracking it down."
Ball was sensational in his regular role, rushing for 142 yards and touchdowns of five, 35 and 54 yards.
Wilson threw for 166 yards and a touchdown with 42 yards rushing. He was rested in the fourth quarter.
James White added 87 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Badgers.
Wisconsin was playing without top wide receiver Nick Toon, who sat out with a left foot injury.
With the game decided by halftime, one of Badgers coach Bret Bielema's biggest challenges in the second half was managing players to make sure his front-line players weren't unnecessarily exposed to injury.
"It's kind of a nice job to have," Bielema said.
Stephen Houston had a 67-yard touchdown run for the struggling Hoosiers (1-6, 0-3).
"When we get the run game going and the pass game, it will be nice to put it all together," Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson said. "It's definitely what Wisconsin does and they're a pretty complete offense right now. We're just misfiring on the offensive side."
Indiana quarterback Edward Wright-Baker threw a pair of interceptions and had a fourth-quarter fumble in the end zone that was recovered for a touchdown by backup linebacker Derek Landisch. Freshman Tre Roberson also got some playing time.
The Hoosiers lost big – but it actually wasn't as bad as last year, when Wisconsin beat Indiana 83-20.
Coming off a bye week after their big victory over Nebraska, the Badgers took a while to get going Saturday. And a sleepy, late-arriving student section didn't create much of an atmosphere early on – certainly nothing like it did against the Cornhuskers.
The Hoosiers started strong, meanwhile, getting a defensive stop on the Badgers' first series and then making a little noise on offense. Indiana used no-huddle and full-house backfield looks to keep the Badgers' defense off balance. The Hoosiers' first drive stalled near midfield, but it appeared for the moment that they had some fight in them.
It didn't last long.
Facing third-and-9 on Wisconsin's own 31-yard line, Wilson threw a 19-yard pass to Jeff Duckworth for a first down. Ball was stuffed on the next play, but Wilson then found Ball wide open for a 46-yard catch-and-run. Ball finished the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run, bouncing off a tackle along the way. Wisconsin led 7-0.
Things then got ugly for Indiana's special teams, as punter Adam Pines shanked one straight into the line and the ball bounced to Wisconsin's Bradie Ewing. Wisconsin took over at the Indiana 26, and after Wilson threw to Ewing for an easy first down, White faked out two Hoosiers defenders on his way to a 15-yard touchdown and a 14-0 Wisconsin lead late in the first quarter.
Indiana put together another drive but was stopped by a swarm of Wisconsin defenders on a fourth-down conversion attempt.
The Badgers answered – and this time, Wilson found himself on the other end of Ball's TD pass, giving the Badgers a 21-7 lead.
Wisconsin cornerback Antonio Fenelus then made an interception near the goal line, and a long run by White set up a 35-yard touchdown run by Ball.
The Hoosiers finally got on the board, thanks to the 67-yard touchdown run by Houston.
But Wisconsin marched down the field for a 38-yard field goal by Philip Welch and an interception by Aaron Henry helped the Badgers score once more before halftime. Wilson's 25-yard scramble set up his 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jacob Pedersen, and Wisconsin led 38-7 at the half.
Wilson said he joked with Ball after his big touchdown pass.
"I came over to the sideline and said, 'Montee, great throw,'" Wilson said. "He said, 'You had me nervous there.' I said, 'What do you mean?' And he said, 'It's a lot harder to throw during a game,' and I said, 'Now you see how I feel every week.'"
Notes: Wisconsin defensive lineman Patrick Butrym limped off the field in the second quarter, appearing to favor his left ankle. Bielema said he'd be back "sooner rather than later." ... Toon's injury is to the same foot he had surgery on in the offseason, but he's not expected to miss an extended period of time. Bielema said they briefly considered playing Toon Saturday. ... Jared Abbrederis scored on a rambling 60-yard punt return in the third quarter.