MADISON, Wis. — It was like something out of a video game.
Wisconsin’s Sojourn Shelton got in front of Illinois’ Malik Turner as both went up for a catch. Shelton didn’t pull down the interception, but his foot picked up where his hands left off.
The senior cornerback unintentionally kicked the ball back over his head, only to see it land in Leo Musso’s awaiting arms.
Somebody been playing a little too much FIFA ⚽️⚽️⚽️? https://t.co/exVgn8qceX
— Flash | 28™ | A01 (@Melvingordon25) November 12, 2016
“I’ve watched a lot of Ronaldo highlights playing FIFA,” Shelton said. “Just kicked it to my homie.”
The interception was Musso’s second of the night, third of his career and one of four the Badgers had in the game. It was the most since a game against Northwestern in 2010.
“The ballers come out in November,” Musso said.
In the 48-3 victory over Illinois Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall, Wisconsin looked the best it has all season in all phases of the game, but Musso’s takeaways were some of the crowd’s favorite moments.
His teammates’, too.
“I expect that out of him,” S D’Cota Dixon said. “I’m not surprised. But it’s just awesome to see. It’s always awesome to see your brother smiling.”
Dixon had two tackles and an interception, which he ran back for 40 yards, setting up the Badgers’ next score. Wisconsin’s safeties, along with Ryan Connelly, who had the fourth interception, combined for more yards than the Badgers’ own receivers in the first half — they had 68 and 67, respectively.
“It turns into a competition,” junior CB Natrell Jamerson said. “As soon as the first pick was caught, we were all like, ‘OK, we’re all going to get a chance now.’ We’re all just out there competing, trying to make a play.”
With the departure of defensive coordinator Dave Aranda after the 2015 season, there were all kinds of questions floating around Wisconsin’s defense, some even in its own locker room. The Badgers knew they were capable of following up a season in which they finished second overall in total defense, they just didn’t know how.
But their new coordinator, Justin Wilcox, did.
Week to week, the Badgers praise Wilcox for his incredibly detailed and thoughtful scouting reports — it’s a rare occasion an opponent catches them by surprise.
Illinois was no exception.
“We knew there were going to be a lot of deep balls thrown,” Shelton said. “Even on film they throw a lot of shots down the field. We just knew we were going to have to play the passing game pretty strong.”
Wilcox has also made everything more fun.
Earlier this season, Derrick Tindal said Wilcox helped him love the game again, the way he did when he first started playing.
Saturday against Illinois, the whole defense felt that love, too.
“Every time they ran the ball, I heard the crowd just roar and I knew it was a tackle for a loss or a tackle,” Shelton said. “I’m happy for everybody. Strong performance by the defense (and) secondary. Just have to keep rolling.”
All the way to a national championship they hope.