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Brady Schipper had no idea when or if his opportunity to contribute to the University of Wisconsin football team would come this season.

The Badgers started fall training camp with a crowded running back room and reps were going to be hard to come by for any player below the top three on the depth chart. But he vowed to study the playbook and understand his role to the point he could produce if he was asked.

Schipper — a Stoughton product and walk-on — is now the No. 2 option behind freshman Braelon Allen after multiple dismissals, transfers and injuries to UW running backs. Just don’t call him the No. 2 back.

“I don’t like to put a title on it,” Schipper said. “Whatever (running backs) coach (Gary) Brown wants me to do, whether it’s like the past couple weeks with third-down stuff … whatever it is for that week, I’ll be ready, be ready for whatever’s asked of me.”

Grading the Badgers: Chenal, Sanborn create havoc to earn defense top mark
Grading the Badgers: Chenal, Sanborn create havoc to earn defense top mark
Jim Polzin | Wisconsin State Journal
No. 20 UW rolled Northwestern 35-7 on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium to move to 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the Big Ten Conference despite playing without tailback Chez Mellusi for the first time after he was ruled out for the season with a left leg injury. Schipper had 38 yards rushing on seven carries and 30 yards receiving on two catches. His 24-yard catch in the second quarter set up a short touchdown run by Allen.

It was the kind of performance the Badgers will need from Schipper moving forward.

“Schip’s just a really smart guy,” UW quarterback Graham Mertz said. “You can see it when he plays. In protections, he’s really good at picking up things … as far as check-downs, he does a great job throughout the week of building up that trust of, ‘All right, when this happens, he’s going to be right there every single time.’”

Schipper said he was inspired by the work he saw former UW tailback Garrett Groshek put in over the three years they played together. Groshek was the third-down back throughout Jonathan Taylor’s time in the backfield, filling roles as a receiving threat, pass blocker and rushing option.

“Just the knowledge of football, the way he handled his business,” Schipper said about the lessons Groshek taught him. “The way he learned the plays, learned the playbook, learned the offense, which is different than I’d ever seen. It helped me dive into the game of football more rather than just, ‘I have this route on this play.’

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“Just being behind him helped me a lot, helped me learn a lot about college football and how you’re supposed to do that role. I looked up to him, very grateful for everything he did for me.”

University of Wisconsin freshman Braelon Allen speaks to the media Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, after the 20th-ranked Badgers defeated the Northwestern Wildcats 35-7 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

Wildcats find limited success on the ground
Northwestern (3-7, 1-6) became the first team in nearly a month to rush for more than 100 yards against the UW defense after totaling 114 yards on 34 carries. UW held Purdue (minus-13), Iowa (24) and Rutgers (95) to less than 100 after allowing 179 to Army’s triple-option offense Oct. 16.

The Wildcats gained 48 yards on the ground on their first drive, which ended with a red zone interception. They moved it 48 yards on the ground on one fluky play in which they recovered their own fumble and got to the UW 6-yard line. That drive ended with a missed field goal. Outside of those 13 rushing attempts, Northwestern tallied 18 yards on 21 tries.

Funky plays go Northwestern’s way
The Badgers had control of the game most of the way, but fortunate breaks went Northwestern’s way in the first and third quarters that nearly got the offense on the board.

Senior quarterback Andrew Marty was under pressure on fourth-and-3 from UW’s 20 on the Wildcats’ first drive. Marty threw a low pass toward his receiver on the left sideline, but Badgers sophomore linebacker Nick Herbig got a hand on it and sent it rotating end over end down the field. Northwestern tailback Evan Hull caught the fluttering ball and gained 11 yards to keep the drive alive.

Rapid replay: Wisconsin football extends win streak to six, stays in control of Big Ten destiny
Rapid replay: Wisconsin football extends win streak to six, stays in control of Big Ten destiny
Colten Bartholomew | Wisconsin State Journal
Herbig forced a fumble after chasing down a run from Andrew Clair during the third quarter. The ball bounced into the hands of Wildcats receiver Stephon Robinson Jr., who carried it into the Badgers’ red zone.

“It’s like … what the heck,” senior linebacker Jack Sanborn said about those plays. “We had a great stand there (after the fumbled run) and they ended up missing the field goal. It’s kind of just move on, let’s go, they’re not going to get into the end zone.”

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