MADISON, Wis. – The countdown is officially on. With three more touchdowns on Saturday at Purdue, Wisconsin senior running back Montee Ball surpassed former Badger Ron Dayne in the Big Ten and UW record book for career touchdowns. With 72 in his three-plus seasons as a Badger, Ball now has his sights set squarely on the NCAA record of 78 held by Travis Prentice (Miami, OH).
It took Ball a little more than three quarters to remind people that the 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist was still a force to be reckoned with. In the much-anticipated Leaders Division matchup with Purdue, Ball ran for a career-high 247 yards on 29 carries and added the three touchdowns. Upon further review, 194 of those yards came after first contact.
The highlight of the day came on a 67-yard TD run on the second play of the third quarter, Ball’s longest career scamper. That helped him average an outstanding 8.5 yards per carry. For good measure, Ball added a 14-yard reception to account for 261 all-purpose yards on the day.
For his effort, Ball was rewarded with his fifth career Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award. That is second-most in school history, trailing only Dayne (9), and tied for seventh-most in conference history.
Ball’s production has increased since the Big Ten campaign started. In three conference games, he is averaging 152.0 yards per game and has scored eight touchdowns. Dating back to 2010, he has scored at least two TDs in each of the last 16 Big Ten contests and accounted for 49 TDs over that span.
Ball is the leader among active players nationally in total touchdowns (72), rushing touchdowns (66), scoring (434 points), rushing yards (4,126) and rushing yards per game (98.2) among players with at least 20 career games.
Ball and the Badgers look to continue their hot streak this Saturday when they host Minnesota in the Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. The two teams square off at Camp Randall Stadium at 11 a.m. on ESPNU.