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3 Best Running Backs in Wisconsin Football History

The Wisconsin Badgers football program is known for dominating opponents with elite offensive line play and running the ball down opponents’ throats. This has been the Badgers’ 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 best running backs ever to “Jump Around” and play in the Wisconsin football program.

Jonathan Taylor Wisconsin
Jonathan Taylor had back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons. | Credit: John Fisher/Cal Sport Media

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. Now, he awaits draft day, with one lucky team getting as complete of a running back as there has been in Wisconsin football history.

Wisconsin senior running back Montee Ball (28) needs just two trips to the end zone to become the all-time FBS career touchdowns leader.
Montee Ball is the all-time touchdown leader at Wisconsin. | Credit: AP Photo

2. Montee Ball (2009-12)

Montee Ball is the all-time touchdown leader in Wisconsin football history, with 83 touchdowns, and he ranks third in career rushing yards. He finished fourth in Heisman voting during the 2011 season (robbed), 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 Badger backfield was stacked, with James White and a young Melvin Gordon also mixing in.

Ron Dayne Wisconsin
Ron Dayne won the 1999 Heisman Trophy. | Credit:

1. Ron Dayne (1996-99)

Often credited as the running back to start the trend for the Badgers, Ron Dayne is the all-time rushing leader in Wisconsin football history, 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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