Junior running back Jonathan Taylor ran for 204 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries to pace the Badgers offense and kick returner extraordinaire Aron Cruickshank ran back a Nebraska kick 89 yards to the house in the first quarter of the game.
Taylor was forced to share the award with Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson and Cruickshank had to share his with Northwestern linebacker Chris Bergin who recovered a fumble and returned a blocked field goal 85 yards for a score. I guess that’s pretty good, but still...sharing sucks.
Cruickshank is having a great year returning the ball for the Badgers, an area that they have often struggled in, and he leads the B1G and ranks tenth nationally with 28.4 yards per kickoff return. This is his first ever special teamer of the week award and Wisconsin’s first since Nick Nelson on Nov. 20, 2017.
Lights. Camera. AC HOLLYWOOD.@Ac_Hollywood_ ran back Wisconsin’s first kick return TD since 2015!— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) November 18, 2019
He leads the Big Ten in in kickoff return average (28.4 yards per return)#OnWisconsin » #Badgers pic.twitter.com/joutSdWJ68
Only two other B1G players have returned a kickoff for a touchdown this year, Maryland’s Javon Leake and Michigan’s Giles Jackson being the other two.
Taylor had another typical “Jonathan Taylor performance” against Nebraska. He’s played the Huskers three times and, by yardage, this was his WORST game against them. He became the first FBS player since at least 2000 to rush for 200 or more yards against a single opponent three times in his career, according to the B1G press release.
This was his eighth career player of the week award, tying him with former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees and putting him one behind the all-time mark shared by the players listed above.
His career rushing total is now 5,634 yards and that means he passed Herschel Walker for the most yards ever through a player’s junior season. He also moved passed Archie Griffin for second place in B1G history.
Iowa defensive end A.J. Epensesa won defensive player of the week for dominating Minnesota and Northwestern freshman running back Evan Hull gashed UMass for 220 yards and four scores to be named freshman of the week.