The Wisconsin Badgers are one of the best teams in the country at building momentum using the running game. They are like a juggernaut in that once they’ve got that momentum built up, it’s nearly impossible to stop. The Fighting Illini was the latest victim of Wisconsin’s impregnable force yesterday.
Wisconsin followed it’s usual game plan to pound Melvin Gordon and James White, control the clock and force the opposing offense to be one dimensional. They executed very well against an Illini defense that struggles against the run, totaling 289 and six touchdowns on 46 carries. The 25 first downs the Badgers got allowed them a nearly nine minute time of possession advantage and forced Illinois to abandon its running game to try to play catch-up. Illinois amassed only 72 rushing yards for the game.
These numbers plummeted Illinois in the rushing defense category even further. Illinois is now averaging allowing 211 rushing yards per game and through seven games has allowed 14 touchdowns on the ground. The Illini’s 5.2 yards per carry allowed average is among the worst in the nation. The lack of any ability to slow down the Badger running game helped Wisconsin to stay on track with its progress.
The Badgers are now averaging just under 297 rushing yards per game and nearly 7 yards per carry. Gordon is averaging nearly 145 yards per game and just a hair less than 10 yards per rush. White currently has averages of 96 and 6.2. In order to keep the winning streak that the Badgers are on going, however, they will need to become more balanced on offense.
In the Badgers’ next five games, they face three defenses that currently rank in the top 26 in the nation against the run. Quarterback Joel Stave will have to make more plays with his arm as these defenses will most likely be keying on the running game. If Wisconsin can make a few plays in the passing game, it will allow them the room they need to build their running momentum. Once the Badgers establish that, it will be a long day for all their opponents.
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