Wisconsin may be without Clay again

Injured Wisconsin running back John Clay should get limited practice time this week, though his availability for Saturday’s game at Michigan isn’t yet known.

Clay sprained his right knee in a win over Purdue on Nov. 6 and didn’t play during Saturday’s 83-20 victory over Indiana.

”I don’t know if we’ll have him for Tuesday (practice), but I do expect him to get a limited amount of work this week,” coach Bret Bielema said Monday in his weekly news conference from Madison.

The sixth-ranked Badgers (9-1, 5-1 Big Ten) are rolling headed into the game at Michigan (7-3, 3-3) and proved they didn’t need the conference’s reigning offensive player of the year against the Hoosiers.

With Clay sitting, Montee Ball ran for 167 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start and freshman James White added 144 yards and two scores. The 83 points were the most Wisconsin has scored in a game in 95 years.

”I don’t know if we’ll have that three-headed thing this week because John I think won’t be at full strength, but when that situation does pop up, whether it’s the next game or in the bowl game opportunity, it’s something you’ve got to be smart about when and how you use them,” Bielema said. ”I think it’s hard to get three guys in rhythm all the way through, but you can definitely go a strong two and the third one comes in when he’s needed.”

It may not matter who gets the carries.

Clay leads the group with 929 yards and 13 touchdowns, White has 714 yards and 11 scores and Ball has 513 yards and nine TDs. Wisconsin is the only school in the FBS with three running backs that have at least 500 yards rushing.

All three have been effective at times and each has at least two 100-yard games. Even though Ball had the biggest day of his career, White took home conference honors as freshman of the week.

Wisconsin has had a memorable fall, but a loss at Michigan State on Oct. 2 has hurt their chances for an outright Big Ten title. Depending on tiebreaking scenarios, the Badgers could end up in the Rose Bowl, another BCS bowl or another trip to Florida to a lesser bowl game.

But first, Wisconsin must take care of its remaining schedule beginning with the Wolverines, who rallied from a 19-0 halftime deficit to beat the Badgers the last time Wisconsin was in Ann Arbor two years ago.

Wisconsin finishes its season against Northwestern.

”The best thing I think that this team really embraces is the Michigan State game happened for a reason. Whatever it was, we had to learn from that day,” Bielema said. ”If we just left everything in East Lansing, we’d never be where we are today. We learned from that experience and grew and I think that’s the true sign of a good (team).”