The Duel

3 Greatest Running Backs in Wisconsin History

Zach Brunner
Jonathan Taylor is projected to be a high pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Jonathan Taylor is projected to be a high pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. / Dylan Buell/Getty Images
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The Wisconsin Badgers are known for dominating opponents with elite offensive line play and dominant running the football. This has been the Wisconsin identity, everyone buys into it and it's why they have had double-digit wins in eight of the last 11 seasons.

Naturally, this has led to producing some of the best running backs in the country. These are the three greatest running backs in Wisconsin history.

3. Jonathan Taylor (2017-19)

Jonathan Taylor is the most recent man to do it, but it's tough to argue against him being one of the best ever. Taylor ranks second all-time in Wisconsin rushing yards, at 6,174. He has posted back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons. This past year, he ran for 2,003 yards and 21 touchdowns. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry as a Badger. All three of Taylor's seasons at Wisconsin ranked in the top-six for single-season rushing yards.

2. Montee Ball (2009-12)

Montee Ball is the all-time rushing touchdown leader for Wisconsin, with 77 touchdowns. He finished fourth in Heisman voting during the 2011 season, when he put on one of the greatest single season performances in Wisconsin history. Ball ran for 1,923 yards and 33 touchdowns, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. He added another 306 yards and six touchdowns through the air, for a grand total of 39 touchdowns. It's amazing to think they he was able to do this with a competent passing attack as well, with Russell Wilson throwing the rock. That backfield also featured James White and a young Melvin Gordon. Additionally, he ranks third in career rushing yards.

1. Ron Dayne (1996-99)

Often credited as the running back to start the trend in Wisconsin, Ron Dayne is the all-time rushing leader for the Badgers, with 7,125 yards and 71 touchdowns. He ran for over 2,000 yards as a freshman, then had an equally impressive season during 1999, his senior year. Dayne won the 1999 Heisman Trophy, running for 2,034 yards and 20 touchdowns. He went on to be drafted at No. 11 overall.


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