Notes: Ringing Ringer

Entering the game averaging 152.6 rushing yards over nine contests, Wisconsin holds the nation's leader in yards and touchdowns to a season-low 54 yards.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Leading the nation with 1,373 yards and 16 touchdowns, senior Javon Ringer has had little trouble carving up opposing defenses in 2008. The Badgers know that feeling, especially after Ringer embarrassed UW last season.

The Badger seniors didn't forget and on Saturday, made sure Ringer remembered how tough the UW front four can be.

A year after running for 145 yards on just 10 carries, the senior-laden front four of Wisconsin held Ringer and the Spartan rushing attack to only 25 yards on 29 attempts on the ground.

"We played our butts off out there," safety Jay Valai said. "We just played aggressive, read our keys and do what we had to do."

After taking his first carry for 12 yards, Ringer found limited room to run the rest of the day. With the Badger defense applying constant pressure and gaining penetration into the Spartan backfield, Wisconsin limited the Spartans' offensive juggernaut to a season-low 54 yards on 21 carries (a 2.6 yard average).

"He does a lot of his yardage when they are in a two-back formation and we did a good job of shutting down that," UW coach Bret Bielema said.

But while the Spartans struggled on the ground, the Badgers flourished running the football. Using a steady run combination of junior P.J. Hill and freshman John Clay, the Badgers out rushed Michigan State 281 to 25, as both Hill and Clay rushed for over 100 yards and one touchdown.

It was Hill's first rushing touchdown in four weeks and Clay's first in five weeks.

"We went with P.J. early and John came in," Bielema said. "John does a really good job and probably feels more comfortable coming off the bench in what we've seen him react to. Zach did some good things when he was able to pop in there. It gives us three guys we feel we can rotate through and make good plays."

Toon Continues to Make Strides

With the Badgers being without the services of All-American tight end Travis Beckum after the senior broke his left fibula against Illinois, effectively ending his career, the Badgers were looking for another playmaker to step in to fill the void.

Redshirt freshman Nick Toon believes he can be that player.

Son of legendary Badger wide receiver Al Toon, Nick set career highs in catches (three) and yards (44) against the Spartans.

"My job as a receiver is come in, catch the ball and make plays," Toon said. "I am hoping to move forward from here."

Next to Gilreath, who leads all UW's true wide receivers with 21 catches for 310 yards, the Badgers have begun to rely heavily on Toon, who seemingly has replaced sophomore Kyle Jefferson as Wisconsin's No.2 wide receiver.

"I am just trying to go out and make plays," Toon said. "The more I play, the more comfortable I get. I feel I have a pretty solid grasp of the material and the offense."

By the numbers

2005 – The last time Wisconsin had two running backs rush for over 100 yards was against Bowling Green on September 4, 2005. Brian Calhoun rushed for 258 yards while Booked Stanley chipped in with 103.

50 – Junior quarterback Dustin Sherer's completion percentage, tying his lowest of the season. Sherer finished 14-for-28 for 149 yards and a touchdown, but has completed less than 60 percent of his passes in four-straight games.

5-for-15 – Wisconsin offense converted on 33 percent of its third-down attempts. The Badgers have converted more than 1/3 of their third downs in just four of nine games, all of which came at home.

2001 – The last time Wisconsin was under .500 in November. The Badgers finished the season 5-7, the last time UW did not make a bowl game.

Quote of the Day – "I told our guys in the locker room after the game that for whatever reason, they are being tested in the most extreme form than probably they have ever had in their career or their life from a football standpoint." – Bielema on what he said to the players in the locker room

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