MADISON, Wis. — The running game is shifting into high gear at No. 6 Wisconsin.
Coach Paul Chryst said the team's depth at running back, which helped net 363 yards rushing and four touchdowns in 64 attempts against Illinois last week, is the key to providing more consistency for the offense.
“I really mean it when I say we're going to need everyone this season,” Chryst said Monday. “We've been lucky around here and everyone who's followed (Wisconsin football) knows how important it is to have multiple backs.”
Corey Clement is the workhorse starter, while Dare Ogunbowale is a change-of-pace and third-down back. Freshman Bradrick Shaw could be the lead back of the future, and even sophomore Taiwan Deal, who figures to get more snaps next season, got a few carries last week against Illinois.
Win their last two regular season games — Saturday against Purdue and next week against Minnesota — and the Badgers (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten, No. 7 CFP) will be heading to the league championship game. Chryst said the Badgers' depth bodes well for the stretch run.
“I think they all bring a little something different which is good,” he said. “There aren't many positions we have on this team where we've got depth so any time you have it you're very thankful for it.”
Wisconsin recorded another stellar defensive effort in its 48-3 victory over Illinois. The Badgers are tied for third in the FBS in scoring defense (12.7 points per game).
Ogunbowale said working against the Badgers' dominant defense in practice also has aided the improvement of their running game.
“Those guys have been making us better. We hope we've been making them better, also,” he said.
NOTES: Starting NT Olive Sagapolu will miss his fifth straight game Saturday when the Badgers play at Purdue (3-7, 1-6). OL Jacob Maxwell and FB Austin Ramesh are both questionable with right shoulder injuries, while backup OLB Zack Baun is questionable with a left leg injury.