Adrian Peterson, Ron Dayne and Jonathan Taylor.
That would make a hellacious tailback committee, and after Wisconsin’s 31-0 victory over rival Minnesota on Saturday, that trio occupies the top three spots for single-season rushing marks among FBS freshman.
Peterson rushed for 1,925 yards in 2004, Dayne was credited for 1,863 yards in 1996 and Taylor pushed his season total to 1,806 yards by rushing 20 times for 149 yards and a touchdown against the Gophers.
Dayne finished with 2,106 yards in 1996, but because bowl statistics prior to the 2002 season are not recognized by the NCAA, Peterson owns the mark.
Taylor, who entered the game No. 7 on the list with 1,657 yards, said he wasn’t sure where he stood afterward.
He did know, however, that he trailed Peterson and Dayne.
“Those guys that are ahead of me—Ron Dayne and Adrian Peterson—there will never be any backs like those guys,” Taylor said. “So to be mentioned with those guys is definitely humbling.
“I’m proud to share this moment and feat with my team.”
Taylor has surpassed the 100-yard mark in nine of 12 games this season, including three games of at least 200 yards.
“It has been fun seeing him, not only what he has done but how he has done it,” UW coach Paul Chryst said. “He is the first to know it takes everyone.
“He has been really good, (and) the guys around him appreciate him because they know that for him it is not about Jonathan. It is about the team. That’s pretty impressive.”
Taylor lost a fumble in the second quarter and finished the first half with 41 yards on 12 carries. He added 108 yards on just eight carries after halftime. His big run was a 53-yarder for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“It was blocked beautifully and he hit it,” Chryst said.
Senior cornerback Derrick Tindal was asked to assess Taylor’s skill.
“The last time I saw a running back like that was my freshman year,” Tindal said, referring to Melvin Gordon. “That’s all I can say.
“He is so humble and he works hard. He just does everything right. But he’s actually a big kid. All he wants to do is sit around and play video games.”
Taylor put up more highlights worthy of a video game again Saturday.
From the infirmary
Tight end Zander Neuville, an important player in UW’s running game, appeared to suffer an injury to his right knee while blocking with 44 seconds left in the first quarter.
Neuville was helped off the field and did not return.
Tailback Bradrick Shaw was hit near the sideline at the end of a 2-yard run in the second quarter and was helped to the sideline. He did not return.
Chryst did not have an update on the status of either player entering the Big Ten title game against Ohio State but noted UW would distribute its preliminary injury report on Monday.
Safety D’Cota Dixon (right leg) and linebacker Chris Orr (left hamstring) were questionable entering the game and both played and each recorded one tackle.
Orr suffered the injury at Indiana and did not play against Iowa or Michigan.
Dixon did not play at Illinois, played sparingly at Indiana, did not play against Iowa and recorded four tackles against Michigan in his most extensive action in several weeks.
According to Dixon, he wasn’t sure whether he would play at all. His No. 1 concern is to practice more this week so he is ready to face Ohio State.
“I wasn’t intending on playing that much,” Dixon said. “Obviously, we’ve got big goals ahead of us. We’ve got a big game next week. I’m looking to throw my body around and get into practice more this week.
“My body is starting to cooperate with me.”
Wide receivers Danny Davis, A.J. Taylor and Kendric Pryor made huge plays for the third consecutive game to help compensate for the absence of Quintez Cephus.
The trio had 14 touches—catches and runs—in the first two games without Cephus for a combined 269 yards and two touchdowns. They added to those numbers Saturday by combining for 11 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown.
Davis had five catches for 41 yards and a touchdown; Pryor finished with three catches for 51 yards; and A.J. Taylor contributed three catches for 39 yards.
Those performances pushed their three-game totals since Cephus’ injury to 25 touches for 400 yards and three touchdowns.
“They’ve been growing, and it’s been fun to be a part of it,” said Chryst, who saluted the work of wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore. “Certainly, along with that comes confidence.
“I think they’re confident but still really hungry. They play every play. They take as much pride in blocking as they do in making a catch. That is where they are fun to be around.
Home sweet home
UW linebacker Ryan Connelly, from Eden Prairie, Minn., played well against a team that ignored him when he was in high school.
The junior recorded two sacks, three tackles for loss and six total tackles.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to come out with the ‘W,’” Connelly said. “To do it in Minnesota, the last time I’ll be playing here, is pretty special.”
The Badgers recorded their first shutout of Minnesota since a 24-0 victory in 1982. The last time UW blanked the Gophers in Minnesota? That was 1922. UW’s last shutout in Big Ten play before Saturday was a 37-0 decision over Rutgers in 2014. …
The victory over Minnesota improved UW’s record since the start of the 2008 season to 100-33, a .752 winning percentage. Alabama (123), Ohio State (109), Oklahoma (103) and Clemson (102) entered Saturday as the only Power Five programs to win 100 games over the last 10 seasons. ...
UW is the only FBS team in the nation to avoid trailing in the fourth quarter this season. …
UW improved to 13-1 in road games under Chryst.