MADISON, Wis. — For the second straight year, Wisconsin senior running back Montee Ball has been named one of three finalists for the Doak Walker Award, given to the top running back in college football.
Ball joins Oregon’s Kenjon Barner and UCLA’s Jonathan Franklin as finalists this year. He is the third Wisconsin player to be named a Doak Walker Award finalist, along with Ron Dayne and John Clay. Dayne, the only other Badgers player to be a finalist twice, won the award in 1999.
Ball is currently sixth in the country among running backs in rushing yards (1,417) and rushing touchdowns (17). He leads the Big Ten in both categories.
Ball’s season began slowly — he had 360 rushing yards and three touchdowns through four games — but his numbers have drastically increased in Big Ten play. He has rushed for at least 166 yards in four of his last five games, including 191 last week against Ohio State. He became the first player to rush for at least 190 yards against Ohio State since Penn State’s Eric McCoo in 1999.
Ball’s 1,057 rushing yards in Big Ten play are 268 more than Northwestern’s Venric Mark, who is second in the conference. Ball is on pace to become just the seventh player in Big Ten history to lead the conference in rushing yards in league games in two straight seasons.
Last week against Ohio State, Ball scored his 78th career touchdown, tying him with Miami (Ohio) running back Travis Prentice, who established the all-time NCAA FBS mark in 1999.
Wisconsin has three games remaining, including next week’s regular season finale at Penn State.