By the numbers: Wisconsin

Wisconsin boasts a strong running game, rushing defense, a trio of pass rushers, and a ball-hawking safety.



Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst watches the action in the first half against Penn State during the Big Ten championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on December 3, 2016. (Sam Riche/TNS)

Adam Hensley, [email protected]

Wisconsin is known for smash-mouth football. The Badgers traditionally keep it on the ground, using a power running game, and that’s been the case this season.

As a team, Wisconsin averages 245.2 rushing yards per game on 46.9 attempts (5.2 average), ranking No. 16 in the nation. The Badgers lead the Big Ten in rushing yards (2,203), yards per game, touchdowns (23), and attempts (425). They rank second in average rushing yards per attempt.

Five players have at least 24 carries on the season, and four of those players average at least 5 yards per carry.

Out of that group, freshman-phenom back Jonathan Taylor is on a roll. Taylor has carried that ball 190 times through the team’s first nine games, reaching 1,368 yards (third in the NCAA) and 12 touchdowns (T-13th); he averages 7.2 yards per carry.

Taylor has three 200-yard games this season (223 against Florida Atlantic, 249 against Nebraska, and 219 against Purdue). In Wisconsin’s most recent win, a victory over Indiana on Nov. 4, he ran for 183 yards, earning Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors (his fifth conference such award this season, tying for the third-most in Big Ten history).


Rushing yards allowed per game: 87.8

Wisconsin’s rushing defense is just as good as its rushing offense.

Allowing fewer than 90 rushing yards per contest is nothing to scoff at; it’s the fourth-best mark in the nation. The Badgers rank No. 2 in the Big Ten in that category only behind Michigan State, which has allowed 87 yards per game.

The Spartans led the conference in fewest rushing yards allowed (783), but the Badgers are only 7 yards behind at 790.

Wisconsin also has allowed just 3 yards per rush, but the most eye-popping statistic lies in rushing touchdowns.

The Badgers have allowed just 3 rushing touchdowns, which ties for the best in the NCAA. In the past seven games, they’ve only allowed one score.


Players with at least 5 sacks: 3

The Badgers’ pass rush is pretty balanced; no one player boasts a large chunk of the sack totals.

For Wisconsin, a team that ties for fifth in the NCAA with 31 sacks, it’s a committee effort.

Alec James, Garret Dooley, and Andrew Van Ginkel each have at least 5 sacks on the season. All three have at least 7 tackles for a loss this season, with Dooley leading the group at 8.

James heads into the match with Iowa on a hot streak. The senior had 2 sacks against Illinois on Oct. 28 and 1.5 against Indiana on Nov. 4.


Joe Ferguson interceptions, fumble recoveries: 4, 2

Ferguson may only have 7 tackles on the season, but he’s stuffed the stat sheet in other categories.

The senior safety didn’t play in four games this season, but he leads the team in interceptions and fumble recoveries.

Ferguson intercepted 3 passes in Wisconsin’s last three games. His first pick came in the opener against Utah State — he took the interception 99 yards for a touchdown.

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