By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
BLOOMINGTON -- Wisconsin turned a simple, three-step approach into a run for the record books Saturday.
P.J. Hill, John Clay and receiver David Gilreath made it look even easier than expected.
The Badgers trio combined for six touchdown runs and each topped 100 yards rushing before leaving in the fourth quarter, keeping Wisconsin's bowl hopes alive with a 55-20 rout at Indiana.
"We've got the ability to drive guys up the field, make good blocks, but it's all about when the backs have the ball, reading the blocks and going," Hill said. "You know he (Gilreath) outrushed me today and the rest of the guys, but it's good to see when the ball is in his hands, he can make a difference."
The final tally, 441 yards rushing, tied the single-game Memorial Stadium record and gave a significant boost to the Badgers' suddenly reinvigorated postseason hopes.
Needing at least two wins in the final three games to become bowl eligible, Wisconsin (5-5, 2-5) reverted to an old formula. The Badgers sent Hill and Clay repeatedly up the middle and relied on a staunch defense to shut out Indiana in the second half.
It was the same combination former coach Barry Alvarez used to turn Wisconsin from a Big Ten afterthought into a perennial title contender during his tenure.
With one difference: Instead of relying on one punishing back to wear down opponents, coach Bret Bielema tried a balanced approach against the Hoosiers' beleaguered and battered defense.
Hill carried 19 times for 127 yards and three touchdowns, while Clay had 19 attempts for 112 yards and one score. And Gilreath, who had 122 yards rushing in the Badgers' previous nine games, carried eight times for 168 yards and two scores including a 90-yard TD -- the second-longest run in school history. His job was to expose the corners on end-arounds.
"I didn't know how much coach was going to go to it, but it was working," Gilreath said. "I think it's a product of the line and the fullbacks and tight ends and everybody. They're making some big holes for me, and I'm just running through them."
For Indiana (3-7, 1-5), it was another dismal day.
Before the game, the Hoosiers announced starting safety Nick Polk would miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, leaving them without three of their opening day starters in the secondary.
Quarterback Kellen Lewis, who missed most of the last three games with a sprained ankle, spent the first half on the sideline without a helmet. Quarterback Ben Chappell, who started, was lost just before halftime with a head injury. Starting linebacker Will Patterson left in the first quarter with a left knee injury and did not return, and starting cornerback Richard Council left in the second half with a knee injury.
Lewis relieved Chappell briefly but missed on all five of his throws, and the Hoosiers wound up using four quarterbacks -- all because of injuries.
Worse yet were the missed opportunities.
Indiana forced three turnovers in the first half, all inside the Badgers 40, but managed just one field goal. After one turnover late in the first half, Chappell ran into a wall of defenders at the Wisconsin 4, fumbled the ball and DeAndre Levy returned it 45 yards to set up a field goal that made it 24-20 at halftime.
"That play was there, he ran for 10 or 12 yards," Indiana coach Bill Lynch said. "You can play not to win. But we didn't come here to play not to win."
Things went downhill fast in the second half.
Gilreath took the handoff on the Badgers' second play, ran left and sprinted 90 yards down the sideline to make it 31-20.
Philip Welch followed that with a 39-yard field goal, Clay scored on a 1-yard run late in the third quarter and Hill opened the fourth with a 19-yard scoring run to make it 48-20.
"We felt during the course of the week, based on what we'd seen on film, that we should be able to come in and run the football," Badgers coach Bret Bielema said.
Did they ever, even after losing right tackle Eric Vanden Heuvel on the game's second play. Vanden Heuvel was carted off the field with a lower right leg injury, and middle linebacker Jaevery McFadden left early with a head injury.
Chappell finished 11-for-20 for 126 yards with one touchdown for Indiana.