During the Badgers' 56-21 clobbering of Michigan State, the offense was on fire not only due to the record-breaking performance of senior wide receiver Lee Evans but also because of the noteworthy play from sophomore running back Dwayne Smith. Both came together to make it the second time this season that a wide receiver and a running back went for 200 plus yards in the same game, the only two times this has happened in Big Ten history.
A familiar theme with the Badger running backs this season is injuries and today was no different. On the Badgers first drive of the game, freshman running back Booker Stanley went down with an ankle injury. Smith had no problem stepping in as he rushed for a career high 207 yards and three touchdowns, marking the second time this season he tallied a trio of touchdowns (the other time was against Illinois).
"Dwayne was running really hard all game," offensive coordinator Brian White said. "I thought he played a really solid, competitive game. He had a lot of big runs for us. I was really proud with the way he stepped up."
With Stanley down and junior Anthony Davis still nursing his injured ankle, it was up to Smith to put a spark in the recently dismal rushing offense.
"I felt like I had to carry the load today," Smith said. "We were going to switch on and off like we've been doing in the past and when (Stanley) went out I knew I had to carry the load. I've done it before. It had to be done and I know I had the trust and the confidence of my coaches and teammates. So I went out there and did that."
Since the weight was on his shoulders today, Smith had the opportunity to do things for himself, rather than taking a back seat to either Davis or Stanley.
"He doesn't normally have a chance to get into a rhythm as opposed to a game like today where there was not a shuffling of backs," White said. "I know he played really well today, we needed him to play well, it was a good performance."
Another thing that helped Smith have a break-out game was solid display by the offensive line. The members of the line created holes for him all day to make his runs come with ease.
The usually dominant rushing offense of Wisconsin was scarce during the team's three-game losing streak. Perhaps most notably, the Badgers struggled to come up with big plays on the ground—their longest runs were 28-yard scampers by Davis against Purdue and Northwestern and a 20-yard run from Smith against Minnesota. Today Smith broke the cycle, providing runs of 60, 39 and 26 yards, respectively.
"We haven't had too many big runs during the past few weeks," Smith said. "Actually we haven't had 100 yards out of any backs for the past couple of games, so coach White wanted us to come out there, establish the run and have a good game."
All in all the offense overpowered the Spartans and Smith could not be happier to get this win behind them as they are on the quest for the best Bowl game possible.
"It was a very important win, we haven't had one in a month," Smith said. "We didn't lack confidence at all and we had a real good time. I didn't anticipate over 200 yards but I did anticipate a victory today."