RB / WISCONSIN
Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor said this week that he was “very motivated” for a rematch with Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game.
In the teams' meeting in October, a 38-7 victory for the Buckeyes, Taylor was limited to 52 rushing yards, a blow to his campaign for the Heisman Trophy. It was the third-worst rushing performance of his college career.
“I know that my team is going to try to lean on me to make plays, look toward me to make plays,” Taylor said.
Taylor has been a prolific rusher in his three seasons with the Badgers. If he can reach 68 yards on the ground against Ohio State on Saturday, he'd become only the seventh Football Bowl Subdivision player to rush for 6,000 yards in a career. This season, he has rushed for 1,761 yards, second-most in the nation, along with 20 touchdowns.
But Taylor has not been prolific against the Buckeyes. When he faced them in Indianapolis in the conference championship game two years ago, he finished with 41 rushing yards, which remains a career low.
His average of 46.5 rushing yards without a touchdown in two games against Ohio State is by far his lowest against any Big Ten team. Other than Northwestern, against whom he has averaged 82.5 rushing yards in two games, he averages 100 yards against every conference opponent. In all Big Ten games not played against Ohio State, he has averaged 162.3 rushing yards.
Taylor mentioned his preparation as a key for sparking a bounce-back performance.
“I got to make sure that I'm ready this week, have a great week of preparation,” Taylor said, “so that when my number is called, I'm able to go out there and execute.”
Ohio State players still hold Taylor in high regard.
Defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton said, “He's really quick and he can read the holes really well. He's very patient in the backfield.”
But the Buckeyes have seen more of those highlights watching video clips than on the field.