By Doug Russell Special to Published Dec 04, 2011 at 12:12 AM

INDIANAPOLIS - It was the best of halves, it was the worst of halves.

Take that tale of two halves and flip it around, and you would have an accurate view of the inaugural Big Ten Championship football game, for the first half was an affront to good football, and the second was nothing short of epic.

The record books will tell you that Wisconsin defeated Michigan State 42-39, but that won't come close to telling the story of how this game played out.

After one quarter, the Badgers leading passer was Montee Ball. After one quarter, the Badgers leading receiver was Russell Wilson.

That's the kind of ballgame this was.

Ball also ran for 105 yards in the first quarter. Then he combined for 32 the next three periods.

That's the kind of ballgame this was.

In the second quarter, you and I both had more total yards than Wisconsin did. After all, just by sitting in our respective seats we didn't lose a total of four of them.

That's the kind of ballgame this was.

Conversely, Wisconsin was also 4-4 in red zone conversions. Ball himself scored four more times to bring his season total to 38 touchdowns, second all-time for a single season only to Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders' 39 in 1988.

Michigan State outgained Wisconsin on the ground and through the air, but only held the ball for 10 seconds longer than the Badgers did in a game that lasted almost four hours.

In the first half, Michigan State scored at will and made Wisconsin's early 14-point lead evaporate faster than a celebratory beer on State Street back home in Madison. But they also held when they needed to, and are packing their bags for California once again.

"I think our kids never stopped wavering in their faith," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said afterwards. "They were tremendous over the course of the last four weeks. They came out today and they weren't going to be denied. And to do it here, the first time ever in Indy. Big Ten champs twice."

Wisconsin will travel to Pasadena for the second straight year, this time to play Oregon on Jan. 2. Last year the Badgers lost in heartbreaking fashion to unbeaten TCU, 21-19, as Wisconsin's two point conversion to tie the game failed with just two minutes left on the clock.

"I think anytime you end on a loss, it stirs in your gut during summer conditioning and it keeps you motivated," according to senior fullback Bradie Ewing. "It's always there, but ultimately we're just preparing to be the best we can be."

Saturday night, Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson was named the game's MVP after completing 17 of 24 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns. After playing three years at NC State, this was his only chance to play for the roses.

"That is one of the reasons I came here, Wilson said afterwards. "I just have to thank Coach Bielema for letting me come here."

Doug Russell Special to

Doug Russell has been covering Milwaukee and Wisconsin sports for over 20 years on radio, television, magazines, and now at

Over the course of his career, the Edward R. Murrow Award winner and Emmy nominee has covered the Packers in Super Bowls XXXI, XXXII and XLV, traveled to Pasadena with the Badgers for Rose Bowls, been to the Final Four with Marquette, and saw first-hand the entire Brewers playoff runs in 2008 and 2011. Doug has also covered The Masters, several PGA Championships, MLB All-Star Games, and Kentucky Derbys; the Davis Cup, the U.S. Open, and the Sugar Bowl, along with NCAA football and basketball conference championships, and for that matter just about anything else that involves a field (or court, or rink) of play.

Doug was a sports reporter and host at WTMJ-AM radio from 1996-2000, before taking his radio skills to national syndication at Sporting News Radio from 2000-2007. From 2007-2011, he hosted his own morning radio sports show back here in Milwaukee, before returning to the national scene at Yahoo! Sports Radio last July. Doug's written work has also been featured in The Sporting News, Milwaukee Magazine, Inside Wisconsin Sports, and Brewers GameDay.

Doug and his wife, Erika, split their time between their residences in Pewaukee and Houston, TX.