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Nemesis!

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A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent. Personified in this case via RB.

Nebraska v Wisconsin Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

There is a finite amount of time you can root for your favorite college player. As soon as they step on campus, there is a clock that ticks. Maybe they redshirt and stay for five years. Maybe they rip it up and leave early to pursue a career in professional sports. Either way, there is a limited amount of games, a finite amount of plays that any college player participates in.

The flip side of that coin is that sometimes, there are opponents that are extremely happy seeing them leave. Let’s celebrate the Badger running backs that put the biggest hurt down on Big 10 opponents with something I call the Nemesis Index.

The Nemesis Index compares a Wisconsin running back’s (and Brooks Bollinger) body of work in Big 10 play to how he rushed against each individual school. As usual, all game stats were pulled from Sports Reference’s college football play index. I cut the data off at the top 500(ish) rushing yards in a game since 2000, and only kept players with over 500 yards rushing in Big 10 play.

Indiana Hoosiers vs Wisconsin Badgers Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

To explain the math that produces the Nemesis Index, let’s walk through Brooks Bollinger’s body of work, and how he did against Minnesota. On average, Bollinger rushed for 70.5 yards in a game, but in three games against the Gophers he averaged 94.3. That puts his initial level of ‘I am going to cream these idiots’ score at 23.8, qualifying him to have a Nemesis Index against Minnesota.

Additionally, he had 7.9 yards per rush, well above his conference carry average of 5.4. He gets two bonuses. The initial 23.8 is multiplied by the ypc difference of 2.5+1. (If it was a negative ypc difference, it would be “multiplied by one”, and adding one to positive differences corrects for that, and this is just making stuff up anyway.) Finally, that new number of 83.4 is multiplied by the three games Bollinger played against the Gophers, putting his Nemesis Index at 250.25. Let’s see how that stacks up.

Wisconsin Badger Running Back Nemesis Index

Player Opponent GamesPlayed AverageYds AvgConfYds YdsPerRush ConfYdsPerRush NemesisScore
Player Opponent GamesPlayed AverageYds AvgConfYds YdsPerRush ConfYdsPerRush NemesisScore
Melvin Gordon Nebraska 2 312 151 18.4 7.9 3703
Jonathan Taylor Purdue 2 270 148.8 8.6 6.4 775.68
Jonathan Taylor Nebraska 2 235 148.8 9.6 6.4 724.08
Anthony Davis Minnesota 3 211 126.3 6 5 508.2
Montee Ball Purdue 3 199 149.6 8.5 6.1 503.88
P.J. Hill Northwestern 1 249 104.5 7.1 4.7 491.3
James White Indiana 4 149.25 111.4 9 6.8 484.48
Dwayne Smith Michigan State 2 158.5 104.8 9.1 5.9 451.08
Zach Brown Minnesota 2 144.5 91 8.3 5.3 428
Michael Bennett Northwestern 1 293 137.4 6.1 4.8 357.88
Brooks Bollinger Minnesota 3 94.33333333 70.5 7.9 5.4 250.25
Melvin Gordon Northwestern 2 215.5 151 8.8 7.9 245.1
Dare Ogunbowale Nebraska 3 99.66666667 79.8 7.7 5.1 214.56
Brian Calhoun Illinois 1 197 112.1 5.6 4.3 195.27
Anthony Davis Illinois 2 164.5 126.3 6.5 5 191
Corey Clement Penn State 1 164 107.8 7.8 5.7 174.22
John Clay Indiana 2 123 95 7.2 5.1 173.6
Corey Clement Rutgers 2 123 107.8 9.8 5.7 155.04
Michael Bennett Purdue 1 188 137.4 6.7 4.8 146.74
James White Michigan 1 181 111.4 7.9 6.8 146.16
P.J. Hill Minnesota 2 140.5 104.5 5.7 4.7 144
Jonathan Taylor Penn State 1 185 148.8 9.3 6.4 141.18
Jonathan Taylor Rutgers 1 208 148.8 7.7 6.4 136.16
Montee Ball Northwestern 1 178 149.6 8.9 6.1 107.92
P.J. Hill Purdue 1 161 104.5 5.6 4.7 107.35
Corey Clement Ohio State 1 164 107.8 6.6 5.7 106.78
Dare Ogunbowale Minnesota 1 155 79.8 4.7 5.1 75.2
Taiwan Deal Illinois 2 76 64.2 8.4 6.3 73.16
Montee Ball Minnesota 2 166 149.6 7.1 6.1 65.6
John Clay Michigan State 3 111 95 5.3 5.1 57.6
P.J. Hill Michigan State 2 130.5 104.5 4.8 4.7 57.2
Dwayne Smith Illinois 2 157.5 104.8 5.1 5.9 52.7
Corey Clement Illinois 3 113.6666667 107.8 7.6 5.7 51.04
John Clay Minnesota 3 110 95 5.2 5.1 49.5
Brian Calhoun Michigan 1 155 112.1 4.4 4.3 47.19
Montee Ball Indiana 4 155.5 149.6 6.9 6.1 42.48
Taiwan Deal Rutgers 1 77 64.2 8.6 6.3 42.24
Brooks Bollinger Penn State 1 112 70.5 4.9 5.4 41.5
John Clay Michigan 2 101.5 95 7 5.1 37.7
Jonathan Taylor Indiana 1 183 148.8 6.3 6.4 34.2
Corey Clement Iowa 1 134 107.8 3.8 5.7 26.2
Taiwan Deal Minnesota 1 90 64.2 4.1 6.3 25.8
Jonathan Taylor Iowa 3 173.3333333 148.8 6.1 6.4 24.53333333
James White Iowa 1 132 111.4 6.9 6.8 22.66
Taiwan Deal Nebraska 1 74 64.2 7.4 6.3 20.58
Montee Ball Illinois 2 170 149.6 6 6.1 20.4
Brian Calhoun Northwestern 1 122 112.1 5.3 4.3 19.8
James White Minnesota 4 126.25 111.4 6.8 6.8 14.85
Dwayne Smith Iowa 1 119 104.8 4.1 5.9 14.2
Anthony Davis Ohio State 3 138.3333333 126.3 4.6 5 12.03333333
Bradrick Shaw Michigan 1 53 52.2 17.7 4.7 11.2
Bradrick Shaw Penn State 1 62 52.2 4.1 4.7 9.8
Bradrick Shaw Purdue 2 54.5 52.2 5.5 4.7 8.28
Bradrick Shaw Illinois 2 60 52.2 3.9 4.7 7.8
Melvin Gordon Illinois 2 158.5 151 7.2 7.9 7.5
Anthony Davis Michigan State 3 133 126.3 4.9 5 6.7
James White Northwestern 2 117.5 111.4 6 6.8 6.1
John Clay Northwestern 1 100 95 4.3 5.1 5
Anthony Davis Michigan 2 128.5 126.3 4.8 5 2.2
Brooks Bollinger Indiana 1 72 70.5 5.5 5.4 1.65
Corey Clement Indiana 1 108 107.8 9.8 5.7 1.02
Again, this is entirely made up, like all good math is. sports-reference.com

Good for 11th. As usual, we can check if this makes sense by seeing where Melvin Gordon shows up. He is first, for being the entire reason Bo Pelini got fired in his two wonderful performances against the Huskers.

He is closely followed by Jonathan Taylor’s performances against Purdue and Nebraska, who happen to be next on the Badger docket. There’s also a fun ‘remember these dudes’ vibe. Zach Brown went off against Minnesota too!

Only Maryland escapes having their day thoroughly ruined by someone. Minnesota leads the pack with nine entries, Illinois at eight, Northwestern at seven and Indiana at six. Michigan and Purdue both show up five times, and Penn State, Iowa, Michigan State and Nebraska all appear four times. (I think we can agree that Nebraska feels like they show up more.) Rutgers has three appearances, and Ohio State dislikes Corey Clement and Anthony Davis (ever so slightly.)

As usual, let’s take a look at Taylor’s climb in the career rushing record book.

Jonathan Taylor Career Rushing Yardage

Rk Player Yds From To School
Rk Player Yds From To School
12 Jonathan Taylor* 5430 2017 Iowa Wisconsin
13 LaDainian Tomlinson* 5387 1997 2000 Texas Christian
14 Myles Gaskin* 5323 2015 2018 Washington
15 Damion Fletcher* 5302 2006 2009 Southern Mississippi
16 Anthony Thompson* 5299 1986 1989 Indiana
17 Herschel Walker 5259 1980 1982 Georgia
Jonathan Taylor* 5180 2017 Ohio State Wisconsin
18 Garrett Wolfe* 5164 2004 2006 Northern Illinois
19 Montee Ball* 5140 2009 2012 Wisconsin
Jonathan Taylor* 5128 2017 Illinois Wisconsin
20 George Rogers* 5091 1977 1980 South Carolina
21 LaMichael James* 5082 2009 2011 Oregon
22 Ken Simonton* 5044 1998 2001 Oregon State
23 Michael Hart* 5040 2004 2007 Michigan
24 Avon Cobourne* 5039 1999 2002 West Virginia
25 Darren Lewis 5012 1987 1990 Texas A&M
Jonathan Taylor* 4996 2017 Michigan State Wisconsin
26 Darren Sproles* 4979 2001 2004 Kansas State
27 Dontrell Moore* 4956 2002 2005 New Mexico
28 Trevor Cobb 4948 1989 1992 Rice
29 Kareem Hunt* 4945 2013 2016 Toledo
30 Michael Turner 4941 2000 2003 Northern Illinois
31 Ray Rice* 4926 2005 2007 Rutgers
Jonathan Taylor* 4916 2017 Kent State Wisconsin
110 gets him top 10 sports-reference.com

We’re getting into some rarefied air now. By passing Montee Ball, JT is second all time in Wisconsin lore (ya’ll know the name), and third in Big 10 history behind Ohio State’s Archie Griffin. This update, he’s passed LaDainian Tomlinson, Darren Sproles, Mike Hart and Herschel Walker, three absolute legends of college football and a guy who should have done more against Appalachian State.