Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defense Ready for Badgers Line, Back Wisconsin Rb Taylor Leads Fbs in Rushing, Brings Tough Test to Psu

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defense Ready for Badgers Line, Back Wisconsin Rb Taylor Leads Fbs in Rushing, Brings Tough Test to Psu

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's not as if Penn State's defense hasn't had to contend with a quality running back so far this season.

Heck, less than a week ago, Michigan's Karan Higdon gashed the Nittany Lions for 132 yards on the ground in the Wolverines' 42-7 victory in Ann Arbor.

Ohio State's tandem of J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber isn't bad, either. Jalin Moore of Appalachian State and Pitt's Qadree Ollison merit a mention, too.

But the Nittany Lions might not have faced anyone quite like Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor, who will lead the Badgers into Beaver Stadium at noon Saturday.

Taylor, a 5-foot-11, 221-pound sophomore, is Football Bowl Subdivision's leading rusher, averaging 151.4 yards per game. He has been held to fewer than 100 yards just once in Wisconsin's first nine games and has put up more than 200 on three occasions.

"In some ways, he's similar [to other top backs Penn State has faced], but I would say he's probably got the best combination of body type, balance, vision, speed," Nittany Lions coach James Franklin said. "We've gone against some guys that you know are going to get you the tough yards, you know, 6 or 4 yards or 8 yards.

"We've gone against some guys that can take it the distance. But it's hard to find a guy that can do all those things. He has the ability to do all those things and it's magnified because of the type of offense he plays in and because of the type of line that he plays behind.

"It's going to be a real challenge for us. I don't think there's any doubt about it."

Not that there's anything unusual about Wisconsin having a back of such high caliber. It has, after all, sent the likes of Melvin Gordon and Montee Ball to the NFL in recent years.

A strong running game is as much a part of Badgers football as the second-half rendition of "Jump Around" at Camp Randall Stadium. Their 2018 squad honors that tradition. …

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