No. 7 Badgers overpower NIllinois 49-7
Ball finished with 91 yards on 18 carries, James White added 100 yards and another score, and Nick Toon had two touchdown catches for the Badgers (3-0), who have won 31 straight against non-conference opponents in the regular season.
It was an unwelcome "homecoming" for Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren, who spent the last five years in Madison as the defensive coordinator.
The only blemish for the Badgers was Wilson's interception in the third quarter, the first turnover of the season for Wisconsin.
Jasmin Hopkins scored the only touchdown for the Huskies, who fell to 4-27 against Top 25 teams.
Wisconsin now has one last warmup before its much anticipated Oct. 1 game against new Big Ten member Nebraska at Camp Randall.
The numbers were hardly in Northern Illinois' favor coming into the game. Northern Illinois (1-2) had only beaten the Badgers once in their previous 12 games.
But Northern Illinois did manage to make things interesting for about 3 minutes at the end of the first quarter.
Hurt by penalties for a chop block and false start, Wisconsin was forced to settle for a 50-yard field goal try. Kyle French's kick wasn't even close, sailing wide right.
The Huskies put together their best drive of the day, with Chandler Harnish completing passes of 20 yards to Nathan Palmer and another of 39 yards to Ashford to set up a 3-yard run by Hopkins that tied the game at 7 with 1:59 left in the first quarter. Hoping to build on their momentum, the Huskies went for the onside kick.
But the Badgers recovered, and Wilson put a quick end to any hopes the Huskies had for the upset. He needed only three passes to give Wisconsin the lead again, connecting with Toon for the 16-yard score, then moved the Badgers 97 yards on their next drive after they'd been pinned to their own 3.
With the offensive line giving Wilson what seemed like hours to throw, he took his time until he spotted Jacob Pederson sprinting up the left side of the field, hitting him in stride for a 55-yard gain that took Wisconsin to the 2-yard line. Two plays later, Ball ran from a yard in to give Wisconsin a 21-7 lead.
Ball has now scored in nine straight games, and has 22 touchdowns since last Oct. 23.
Not to be outdone, backfield mate White scored on Wisconsin's next drive. Wilson turned what should have been a sack into an 11-yard gain, and White scored two plays later on a 20-yard run, getting help from a great block by offensive lineman Peter Konz that allowed White to turn the corner and get outside.
It was White's second touchdown of the season.
Northern Illinois got to the Wisconsin 25 just before halftime. But Mathew Sims' field goal attempt was wide right and the Huskies never came close to scoring again. In fact, they got past midfield just once in the second half.