Badgers backups ready to step aside as Davis returns

Updated: October 17, 2003, 2:44 PM ET

MADISON, Wis. -- Quarterback Jim Sorgi and running back Anthony Davis will be back in the lineup Saturday for No. 14 Wisconsin -- just in time to go against No. 13 Purdue and its highly rated defense.

Sorgi was injured in last week's win over Ohio State, while Davis returns from a sprained ankle that has limited him to 10 carries in the last five weeks.

The Boilermakers (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) feature a veteran defense that ranks fifth nationally in total defense at 261 yards per game and sixth in points allowed at 13 per game.

Leading the charge is free safety Stuart Schweigert, who owns the school record for interceptions with 16. He also specializes in preventing the big run, something Davis has done until his recent injury woes.

"He's not necessarily a guy that's going to come up and turn the ball carrier and knock him clear into tomorrow," Purdue coach Joe Tiller said, "but he's a guy who's going to get you on the ground. He's been a very good tackler."

With the defense coming around this season, Purdue is no longer regarded as a team with a high-scoring offense.

"People still say 'You're a throwing school, we're somewhat surprised to see you playing that type of defense," Tiller said. "But I do think people are recognizing we're playing a little better defense."

Like Badgers coach Barry Alvarez, who said he worried all summer about an improving defense that three years ago helped Purdue beat Wisconsin on a blocked field goal in overtime.

And that's one reason Alvarez is bringing Davis back for this game as Wisconsin (6-1, 3-0) tries to knock off top 15 teams in consecutive weeks for the first time since 1954.

Davis still leads the Badgers with 466 yards, with fill-ins Dwayne Smith at 460 and Booker Stanley at 454.

"Those other backs have done an excellent job, but you're talking about an elite player in Anthony and a guy that can hit a home run for you," Alvarez said.

Davis began the season with 167 yards against West Virginia and 247 yards against Akron. But he's missed three games, sprained his left ankle Sept. 13 against UNLV and re-injured it Oct. 4 against Penn State.

"Book has stepped up incredibly, Dwayne has stepped up incredibly. But Anthony is still Anthony," wideout Lee Evans said. "It's always good to get him back in the huddle because he brings a whole different aspect to the game."

Sorgi was knocked out of last week's game when Buckeyes linebacker Robert Reynolds jabbed his fingers into the quarterback's neck after a tackle.

Sorgi had trouble breathing and talking and was replaced by Matt Schabert, who led the Badgers to a 17-10 win over Ohio State.

Sorgi, who needed someone to call out signals this week at practice, accepted an apology from Reynolds, who was suspended for Ohio State's game against No. 9 Iowa on Saturday.

"He seems like a good guy," Sorgi said. "I'm sure he regrets what he did. We're all going to move on from here."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index