MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Finally, Wisconsin had a breather.
Tested week after week with close games against the Big Ten's tougher teams, the seventh-ranked Badgers assumed the role of playoff contender in beating up on one of the league's weaker squads.
Corey Clement ran for 123 yards and three touchdowns, Dare Ogunbowale added 103 yards on seven carries and Wisconsin's defense intercepted Illinois quarterback Jeff George Jr. four times in rolling to a 48-3 win on Saturday.
The Badgers (8-2, 5-2, No. 7 CFP) led by 18 after the first quarter with two scores from Clement, and 31-3 at the half on a homecoming weekend at Camp Randall Stadium.
After playing five top 10 opponents over its first nine games, Wisconsin beat Illinois like it was a non-conference pushover.
"It's very frustrating when you have to win games by seven or 14, and it kind of gets old," Clement said. "I would like to get back to this style of football to where we can close out the game."
George had an awful day a week after helping Illinois rally to beat Michigan State. George was 5 of 16 for 79 yards in the first half against Wisconsin before getting pulled for former starter Wes Lunt.
That didn't work, either. Illinois (3-7, 2-5) managed just 60 yards and three first downs in the second half.
"I didn't see much to talk about today. We were dominated by a better team. There was nothing we did that was good out there today," coach Lovie Smith said.
Safety Leo Musso had two interceptions for the Badgers, including one on a pass that caromed off cornerback Sojourn Shelton's foot.
"It was planned. ... I've been watching a lot of Ronaldo highlights, playing FIFA," said a smiling Shelton, referring to the Portuguese soccer star and the popular video game.
It was that kind of afternoon for Wisconsin.
Illinois: Any momentum from the thrilling victory over the Spartans disappeared quickly in the first quarter. A defense allowing 191.9 yards rushing a game coming into Saturday got overwhelmed on the ground. Tackling was poor, allowing the Badgers' backs to break free for extra yards. On offense, the deep passing game needs work. George threw two interceptions in the first quarter alone and tended to miss high on long throws down the field.
Asked if his team took a step back, Smith said "At the end of the season you put it all together. ... Today we didn't get the job done and played bad ball."
Illinois managed a few big rushing plays in the first half against the Big Ten's best run defense. Kendrick Foster finished with 75 yards on 15 carries.
Wisconsin: A laser-like focus on the next game has been a strength for coach Paul Chryst's team through a season in which expectations have grown each week. The Badgers showed no letup against Illinois. Leading 28-3 in the second quarter, Chryst kept players on their toes by calling for a successful fake punt on fourth-and-1 from the Wisconsin 41. Garret Dooley took the direct snap for a five-yard run and a first down.
"Once again, I thought our defense was really good," Chryst said. "It was a good team win, and it didn't just happen. It was a good week of preparation."
With No. 3 Clemson losing to Pittsburgh, the Badgers figure to move up at least a spot when the next AP Top 25 poll is released on Sunday.
Wisconsin dominated Illinois up and down the stat sheet. A few of the more eye-catching ones:
First downs: Wisconsin 23, Illinois 12
Total yards: Wisconsin 455, Illinois 200
Third-down conversions: Wisconsin 7 of 13, Illinois 0 of 9.