Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor has taken the field against Nebraska three times. In each game, he’s rushed for more than 200 yards, finishing Saturday with 204 on 25 carries.
With that, he became the first Football Bowl Subdivision back to rush for 200 yards against the same team in three consecutive seasons since 2000.
That, Taylor said, is a credit to the offense and the Badger coaches, especially.
“You know you can't really come with the same scheme and offense each and every single year,” the junior said. “They always do a good job just putting a little wrinkle on this game in order to, you know, keep Nebraska on their toes and make it so they don't know really what's coming all the time. I think the coaches do a great job each and every single year game plan with these guys.”
With his 11th 200-yard game, Taylor moved into a four-way tie for the most in a career by an FBS player. Now with 5,634 career yards, Taylor also moved past Georgia’s Herschel Walker (1980-82) into first place for most yards rushing through a junior season.
He also passed Ohio State two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin to reach second place on the all-time Big Ten career-rushing chart.
“You know, I’m a big fan of him, right,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “Really what he's done, kind of where he's climbing, and you're talking about Archie Griffin and Herschel Walker. I mean that's pretty special. And yet, when you know who he is and how he goes about this, I think that is the thing to appreciate the most.”
Taylor’s longest run Saturday was a 19-yarder — compare that to the 40-plus-yarders he gashed the Huskers with the last two years. Running into the heart of the Nebraska defense, Taylor often was hit after 4 or 5 yards, then carried Husker defenders 4 or 5 more.
“I think that's more impressive when you carry guys,” Taylor said. “It's always good, you know, to have that home-run hitting ability. But you know sometimes we are going to get in tough games and you need to sustain drives. That’s what's going to sustain it."
That is precisely what Taylor did, carrying the ball five times for 48 yards, the last an 11-yard sprint into the end zone. That TD capped a nine-play, 76-yard drive in the third quarter that ate up 5½ minutes on the clock and gave the Badgers a comfortable 34-14 lead.
“Football is a game of momentum, and anytime that you can counter a score, you know, there's a feeling to it,” he said. “You’d love to match a touchdown with a touchdown — this time we had some field goals. But regardless if you can answer a score with the score, I think that's a sign of a good offense, and today we're able to do it. It felt like it was big.”
The biggest scoring match came in the first quarter when, after Nebraska went up 7-0, UW's Aron Cruickshank took the ensuing kickoff back 89 yards for a touchdown.
“I just told everybody keep calm and I’m going to try to make some shake,” Cruickshank said. “I just saw a big open lane. I’m thankful for everybody on kickoff return. I just had to beat the kicker. That’s one job you have to do. I just couldn’t go out of bounds. It worked, thankfully.”