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Big Ten Notes: Badgers bountiful at running back position

Big Ten Notes: Badgers bountiful at running back position

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Big Ten Notes: Badgers bountiful at running back position

Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon leads the Badgers in rushing with 1,306 yards and 12 touchdowns this season.

Wisconsin's tailback situation qualifies as an embarrassment of riches.

Big Ten football followers are well aware of sophomore Melvin Gordon and senior James White.

Gordon is ninth nationally in rushing at 130.6 yards a game with 12 touchdowns. White is 14th at 115.6 yards with 12 touchdowns and opened last week's 51-3 romp over Indiana with a 93-yard burst.

Not so widely known is the Badgers' third-stringer: true freshman Corey Clement, who visited Nebraska before choosing Wisconsin over NU, Notre Dame and Pitt.

The 5-foot-11 220-pounder from Glassboro, N.J., dashed for 108 yards on 11 carries — his third 100-yard game of the season — and two touchdowns against Indiana. That earned him his second Big Ten freshman of the week honor.

With carries in just eight games, Clement has 515 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging 7.8 yards a carry.

“I haven't been around a young man who is that well-rounded mentally and physically at his young age,” UW coach Gary Andersen said.

Clement could have been an immediate starter at several Division I programs, coming off high school seasons of 2,510 yards rushing with 36 touchdowns and 2,323 yards with 33 touchdowns. He broke the New Jersey single-game state record with 479 yards rushing.

Yet he has settled into his role at Wisconsin and worked to learn from Gordon and White.

“He's been great in practice,” UW running backs coach Thomas Hammock told the Wisconsin State Journal. “As far as coming in with maturity and understanding and work ethic, he's by far the best freshman I've been around.”

Players of the week

Offense: Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde. The senior from Naples, Fla., rushed for a career-high 246 yards and scored five touchdowns in a win over Illinois.

Defense: Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier. The junior from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., had a career-high 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks in a win over Illinois.

Special teams: Michigan place-kicker Brendan Gibbons. The senior from West Palm Beach, Fla., kicked four field goals, including a 44-yarder on the final play of regulation, in a triple-overtime win over Northwestern.

Freshman: Wisconsin's Clement. Clement ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Indiana.

Stats of the week

» Ohio State is No. 1 or 2 in the Big Ten in 13 statistical categories — six offensive (scoring, rushing, total, pass efficiency, first downs, third-down conversions); four defensive (rushing, interceptions, sacks, turnover margin); and three special teams (punting, kickoff returns, kickoff coverage).

» Since a loss to Iowa eight weeks ago, Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson hasn't fumbled or thrown an interception, and has had a hand in 10 touchdowns.

Bits and pieces

» Not much interest in Nebraska on Tuesday's Big Ten teleconference. After one question from the Chicago Tribune about Ameer Abdullah and two questions from the call moderator, Pelini's scheduled 10-minute session ended five minutes early.

» Urban Meyer has never coached a running back who has had a 1,000-yard season in his stops at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State. But Buckeyes tailback Carlos Hyde is only 53 yards away entering Saturday's game at Indiana, which is ranked 122nd in rush defense.

» Michigan No. 1 tailback Fitz Toussaint, who sat out last week because of a concussion, is available to play Saturday at Iowa, coach Brady Hoke said Tuesday.

» Minnesota starting wide receiver Derek Engel suffered a knee injury in practice this week, putting his availability in jeopardy for Saturday at Wisconsin, coach Jerry Kill said Tuesday.

» Illinois coach Tim Beckman and Purdue coach Darrell Hazell, who face off Saturday, are good friends and coached together as assistants at Ohio State under Jim Tressel.

Omaha World-Herald: Big Red

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