Wisconsin Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor had a remarkable freshman season.
Here’s the proof: Taylor broke Adrian Peterson‘s freshman rushing record in the Orange Bowl against the Miami Hurricanes.
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) December 31, 2017
Taylor finished the season with 1,977 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns.
According to Bleacher Report, “Taylor came into Saturday’s Orange Bowl against Miami needing 79 yards to break Peterson’s record. He got it on his 12th carry of the game, which helped set up an Alex Hornibrook touchdown pass three plays later.”
Former Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne ranks third on the list with 1,863 yards in 1996. His total comes with an asterisk because official NCAA stats didn’t include postseason games when he ran for 246 yards against Utah in the Copper Bowl, which would have put him up to 2,109 yards.
While the Badgers just missed out on the College Football Playoff, they had one heck of a season. This is a team that finished with 13 wins, and it’s lone loss came in the Big Ten title game against the Ohio State Buckeyes, another Big Ten team that just barely missed out on the playoff. Wisconsin entered said Big Ten title game with a perfect 12-0 record.
According to uwbadgers.com, “The Badgers scored their 13th win of the season, the most in school history. UW finished 13-1 overall, including a 6-0 mark on the road. The Badgers have won double-digit games in each of the last four seasons.”
Jonathan Taylor capped his record-setting freshman season with 130 rushing yards on 26 carries for the Badgers (13-1), who rallied from an early 14-3 deficit. Taylor finished the year with an FBS-freshman-record 1,977 yards, breaking the record previously held by Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson (1,925 yards in 2004). He finished the season with 1,977 yards, the fourth-best single-season total in UW history.
During the 2017 season, the Badgers managed to knock off three ranked opponents, which included a victory against Miami in the Orange Bowl. The Hurricanes were ranked No. 10 entering bowl season while Wisconsin was ranked No. 6.
More from the uwbadgers.com article mentioned above:
UW now joins Ohio State (2002, 2014) and Michigan State (2013) as the only Big Ten teams to win 13 games in a season. Wisconsin won its fourth consecutive bowl game, doing so for the second time in school history (1998 to 2002 seasons). Adding in last year’s victory in the Cotton Bowl, the Badgers have won back-to-back New Year’s Six bowls.
Taylor clearly has a bright future ahead of him. After all, he not only passed Peterson for the freshman rushing record but his 1,977 rushing yards was also the third-best mark in college football. Stanford Cardinal running back Bryce Love and San Diego State Aztecs running back Rashaad Penny were the only players who had more rushing yards this season.
For all it’s worth, Taylor averaged 6.6 yards per carry in 2017, and he also racked up 95 receiving yards.
After racking up almost 2,000 rushing yards during his freshman season, who knows how good Taylor can be in the future. As for Wisconsin, it is on the verge of making the College Football Playoff, for it was just one game away from doing so this season.