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Bell and Ball Lead the Way

Today's clash features two of the most effective rushers in the nation. When Le'Veon Bell and Montee Ball find success, so do their respective teams.

Andy Lyons

Wisconsin is on a roll, winning three straight behind 529 yards rushing by senior Montee Ball. Lately Ball has flashed his trademark brilliance in beating defenders at the second level. On the other hand, he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry in the Badgers' two losses.

Meanwhile, Le'Veon Bell of Michigan State is the Big Ten's leading rusher with 984 yards on the ground. But when an opponent stops Bell, the Spartans usually fall. Bell is averaging only 82 rushing yards in MSU's four losses.

According to STATS, Bell and Ball are the top two backs in the nation when it comes to both broken tackles and yards after contact. Bell leads both categories with 14 broken tackles and 517 yards after contact. Ball has 13 broken tackles and 501 yards after contact, good for second.

In addition, Bell's 117 and Ball's 106 "quality rushes" place then second and third, respectively, in that category. STATS defines a quality rush as a 1st down rush play that gains at least 40% of the yardage necessary for a 1st down, 50% of the necessary yardage on a 2nd down, and a successful 1st down on a 3rd or 4th down rush play. Rushing touchdowns always count as quality rushes.)

Who will get the upper hand today?