MSU Defense Must Stop P.J. Hill

Wisconsin's tailback P.J. Hill has 420 rushing yards in the last three games and will put the MSU defense to the test on Saturday.

He is one of the premier running backs in the Big Ten and they are the best team in college football at pressuring the quarterback and the rest of the offense.

But the MSU defense knows that they will get a healthy dose of Wisconsin tailback P.J. Hill come Saturday.

The Badgers have been infamous over the years in pounding the ball on the ground, using tailbacks like Brian Calhoun, Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, and currently the 5-foot-11, 227-pound Hill holds the running duties in Madison.

"He's huge and fast," said MSU defensive end Justin Kershaw. "He's a big guy, so I just want to tackle him, I hope I get low."

After giving up 104 yards to Notre Dame's James Aldridge last week, and a whopping 172 rushing yards to LeSean McCoy of Pittsburgh two weeks ago, the MSU run defense knows that they have to step up for this game, especially when Hill is probably the best tailback that the Spartans have seen thus far.

"We definitely need to bring our A game up there," said defensive tackle Ogemdi "OG" Nwagbuo. "You approach everything the same, we have to make plays, and we go against three good running backs in practice every day so they give us good practice for the backs that we will see on Saturday."

The Spartans rank fifth in the Big Ten in rushing defense, giving up 95.8 yards per game, while on the other side of the ball, the Badgers rushing offense is fifth in the Big Ten racking up 200.8 yards per game.

In the last three weeks, Hill has gone on a rushing rampage, rushing for totals of 147, 168, and last week rushing for 113 yards.

"We need to hit him before he starts rolling, because once he starts rolling he's a beast and it's hard to stop him," said linebacker SirDarean Adams. "We need to also hit him in the backfield."

Hill's success in the running game provides Wisconsin with many options on offense, especially setting up the big play through the air.

"They are one of the real definitions of a Big Ten team," said Adams. "They are tough, aggressive and they play physical."

Another factor heading into Wisconsin next week will be Camp Randall Stadium, which is considered one of the greatest and loudest stadiums in college football.

"It is a very exciting atmosphere, they are a very good football team and very well coached," said coach Mark Dantonio. "I am very impressed with Hill, he is a big physical back."

"The key matchup this week will be that we have to be able to stop the run, we are not going to completely stop the run against Wisconsin but we have to eliminate the big play, they are a big play pass team," said Dantonio.

It will be a real test on Saturday for the Spartans as P.J. Hill will be running right in their face. Hill has the second-most carries in the Big Ten this year with 105, only Michigan's Mike Hart has more (127).

"We are just going to play our defense, I feel really confident about our defense, and everybody is playing as one right now," said Kershaw.

As Dantonio mentioned, what will be just as important as stopping the run will be to limit the big plays, especially through the air and on play-action passes. Quarterback Tyler Donovan poses a threat to run with the ball as well, presenting another option for the Badgers.

The MSU defense must come out and prove to people that they are for real against their biggest test yet, playing the ninth-ranked team in the nation on Saturday.


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