Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is now breathing rarified NCAA football air, as he is now the sole owner the AAU’s freshman rushing record for a single season, topping the previous mark 1,925 yards last set by Adrian Peterson back in 2004, when he was a member Oklahoma’s vaunted backfield.
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Taylor needed just 79 yards in Saturday’s Orange Bowl tilt against the University Miami to break Peterson’s record, a threshold he crossed on his 12th carry the game. His record-setting run helped advance the ball in a decisive fashion for the Badgers and set the stage for an Alex Hornibrook touchdown pass just a few plays later.
As it turns out, Wisconsin is a school known for record-setting running backs. Taylor joins alum Ron Dayne on the list the NCAA’s most prolific rushers, who ranks third following his 1,863 yard season back in 1996. This total may have been understated however, as playf totals weren’t added to overall season stats back then. As such, his 246 yards against Utah in the Copper Bowl would have upped him to 2,109 yards, making him the outright record holder.
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The record may also predict a strong pro career for Taylor down the road. After all, Dayne went on to win a Heisman Trophy for Wisconsin in 1999, and Peterson was named NFL MVP in 2012, following a 2,097 yard season for the Vikings. Taylor entered the Orange Bowl game averaging 6.8 yards per carry and notched 13 rushing touchdowns prior to Saturday’s action. He helped the Badgers win the Big Ten West division for the third time in four years.