In what could be an epic night for the Wisconsin football program as a whole, it could be a historic one for one Badger in particular as well.
At 8:00 p.m. ET Saturday, fourth-ranked UW is set to face seventh-ranked Ohio State in Indianapolis in the Big Ten championship, with the winner — especially UW — potentially punching its ticket to the College Football Playoffs. In order to knock off the favored Buckeyes, the Badgers will, as usual, rely on a heavy dose of Jonathan Taylor.
Taylor’s 1,806 yards rushing this season are tops in the conference and third nationally. If Taylor runs for 120 yards or more against an OSU defense that’s 13th in the country against the rush (112.8 yards per game), he will break a record that’s stood for over a decade.
In 2004, Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson ran for 1,925 yards. That set the FBS record for most single-season rushing yards by a freshman.
Peterson set his record in 13 games; Taylor will be playing in his 13th game later on tonight. One big difference? It took Peterson 339 carries (5.7 yards per carry), while Taylor has gotten his numbers in just 258 attempts as he has thus far averaged exactly seven yards a run.
Both running backs were/are true freshmen. Peterson, however, was a consensus five-star recruit who was arguably the top recruit in the Class of 2004 while Taylor was a three-star member of UW’s most recent class.