StaTuesday: The historic career of Badgers RB Taylor

Wisconsin will honor its seniors in its final regular-season home game this Saturday.

Jonathan Taylor won’t be among those 13, but likely even the most ardent Badgers fans can’t see him playing in 2020. At least, not for Wisconsin.

The Badgers have a long line of impressive running backs. Taylor, who is expected to be a first-round pick in the next NFL draft, is probably the most impressive of the bunch. And, yes, we know about Ron Dayne.

Dayne is the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher (yes, the NCAA lists Donnel Pumphrey as the all-time leader but when you include Dayne’s bowl stats, which for some reason the NCAA does not, the Wisconsin back is on top) and has the most 100- and 200-yard games in Badgers history. Of course, he also totaled those in four years.

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Taylor is in just his third year, with at least three games to play (he also didn’t start his first collegiate game, getting just nine carries for 87 yards against Utah State, but took over the starting role after Taiwan Deal got hurt). Let’s take a look at what Taylor has accomplished and what is still to be done:

He recently surpassed Herschel Walker for most yards through a junior season. Yes, Walker played in fewer games – there were only 11 regular-season games during his time and no conference championships – but Taylor still surpassed Walker on his 836th carry. Walker finished with 1,083 rushes.

When he compiles 20 rushing yards – we’re fairly certain that will occur this Saturday – Taylor will have the most yards over any three-year span in history, breaking Pumphrey’s mark over his final three seasons.

Taylor was also the quickest running back in history to reach 5,000 career yards, doing it in his 736th carry. Oregon’s LaMichael James held the record with 755 (Dayne is third with 843 and Walker fourth with 973).

Guess what? He’ll also be the quickest to 6,000. He needs just 366 yards to reach that total, which will make him the first junior to reach that mark.

Taylor won’t pass Dayne for most yards (he’d break the record if he stuck around for his senior season) but he has an outside chance of reaching him for most 100- and 200-yard games. Dayne had 33 100-yard games and 14 of 200+ in his 47 games. Taylor has 30 and 11 in his 37 games.

Still, he’s climbing up the record books.

This past Saturday against Nebraska, Taylor eclipsed Ohio State’s Archie Griffin for second place on the Big Ten’s all-time rushing yards list.

With a guaranteed three games remaining (there would be a fourth game if UW makes the Big Ten title game and we’re also presuming Taylor does not sit out a bowl game), Taylor should reach at least sixth among the all-time rushing leaders.

Ron Dayne 1996-99 7,125
Tony Dorsett 1973-76 6,526
Donnel Pumphrey 2013-16 6,405
Ricky Williams 1995-98 6,278
Charles White 1976-79 6,245
DeAngelo Williams 2002-05 6,026
Jonathan Taylor 2017- 5,634

Taylor now has the third-most rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns in Wisconsin history (he’s very far away from reaching No. 2 on both lists). He’s tied with Dayne (in 1996) for fifth place in single-season touchdowns and is 10th in single-season rushing touchdowns. Considering he’s averaging 12.6 points per game this season, which leads the nation, expect him to keep climbing up those lists a few spots.

He also tops the nation in runs of 10+ yards with 40 and is second in rushing yards per game (146.3).

Here’s one more: Taylor became the first Badgers running back – and the first player since at least 2000, when as far back as stats are available – to rush for 200 yards three times against the same opponent, which he did against Nebraska.

And guess what?

He can do it again this weekend if he gets 200+ against Purdue.

That would be a nice farewell to Badgers fans from perhaps the most impressive collegiate running back … ever.