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Matchup to watch: Michigan defensive line vs Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor

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Taylor is one of college football’s elite runners.

Nebraska v Wisconsin Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wisconsin, off Wisconsin.

Michigan’s opponent this Saturday has had its share of brilliant moments. The Badgers seemingly have also had an equal amount of mishaps and times where, as one of the most talented and well-coached teams in the country, have played down to the level of inferior opponents like BYU and Nebraska.

The one constant through all of that though has been the Wisconsin ground game, specifically sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor. As a three-star recruit Taylor wasn’t expected to do much, but paced the Big Ten with a whopping 299 carries and 1,977 yards on the ground.

Taylor gashed the Wolverines’ normally stout run defense for 132 yards on just 19 carries last year in Madison, but this year seems to be a different story — Michigan boasts the sixth-ranked run defense in the country in yards allowed per game, and has given up a minuscule 2.6 yards per carry.

It’s easy to see why Michigan has been so stout up front — Chase Winovich has played out of his mind this year, and players like Kwity Paye have stepped up to become key contributors. Oh, and there’s that guy Devin Bush Jr. roaming around in the box, too.

Wisconsin has one of, if not the best offensive lines in the country, and it’ll be a challenge for any defensive line to get to Taylor in time. With Rashan Gary banged up, the Wolverines have to rely on their depth to stop “Tractor Taylor.”

History, though, suggests that will be paramount to a Michigan victory. In the Badgers’ loss to BYU, Taylor was limited to a season-low 117 rushing yards and 4.5 YPC.

Time will tell if this is the game Michigan finally steps up on a national stage. One thing is certain: the Wolverines can’t run from the spotlight, and they must do their best to make sure Wisconsin can’t run either.