Saw this on another board, tough question to answer.  Narrowing it down to a top 4 gives you Dayne, Taylor, Ball and Gordon (this list even leaves off one of the greatest Superbowl MVP tragedies in James White).  

Dayne has yards.  Gordon has the single season record.  Ball has TDs.  Taylor's accomplishment in 3 years overshadows what many do in 4.  

1996- Ron Dayne averaged 6.5 yards per carry

2011- Montee Ball averaged 6.3 yards per carry

2018- Jonathan Taylor averaged 7.1 yards per carry

2013- Melvin Gordon averaged 7.8 yards per carry



Career
RankPlayerTDsYears
1Montee Ball772009 2010 2011 2012
2Ron Dayne711996 1997 1998 1999
3Jonathan Taylor502017 2018 2019
4James White452010 2011 2012 2013
Melvin Gordon452011 2012 2013 2014
6Billy Marek441972 1973 1974 1975
7Anthony Davis422001 2002 2003 2004
P.J. Hill422006 2007 2008
9John Clay412008 2009 2010
10Corey Clement362013 2014 2015 2016

"Rocket Fuel malt liquor. Damn!" 

Last edited by Timpranillo
Original Post

Not being a Wisconsin fan and not having watch as much UW football as the rest of you my opinion is less educated than most of you, but I think Melvin Gordon was the most naturally gifted (and underrated somehow) backs in college football history. He would be my vote for the best. Would have been fun to see what he could have done if he didn't have to share the load with White. 

Last edited by Grave Digger

I'd have to compare the OL they had to run behind too. The problem is that they were all good. 

Dayne got to run behind Tauscher, Chris McIntosh, Casey Rabach, Aaron Gibson, and Bill Ferrario

Gordon got to run behind Kevin Zeitler, Travis Frederick, Rob Havenstein, Ricky Wagner, and Tyler Marz

Taylor had Ramcyzk and a bunch of other guys that will be good pros. 

Amazingly enough, Joe Thomas, the best OL in Badger history and one of the top 5 left tackles in NFL history never had a great RB running behind him. 

Melvin Gordon got my vote. His explosiveness was just stunning. What he did to a ranked Nebraska defense when he set the record in the Camp Randall snow to me should go down as the greatest single game rushing performance in NCAA history. 400 yards in 3 quarters? Against a ranked opponent? There hasn’t been a performance that stacks up. 

And his second best performance- 216 yards on 9 carries against Nebraska his redshirt freshman season in the B1G Championship Game was a prelude of what was to come for that kid. Plus, Wisconsin born and raised... can’t take that away, either.

Last edited by Music City
MichiganPacker2 posted:

Amazingly enough, Joe Thomas, the best OL in Badger history and one of the top 5 left tackles in NFL history never had a great RB running behind him. 

I’ll bet Brian Calhoun sends him a Christmas card every year, though... dude got picked in the second round and I don’t think he started 15 games in his career. 

It’s really tough to say who is the best given all of the great backs that came through Madison.  

It’s also easy to forget about guys like Brian Calhoun and Michael Bennett given they didn’t play several years for UW.   Both guys had 1600 yards rushing and that easily gets lost in the shuffle when you think of guys like Dayne and JT and Gordon.   

My natural reaction would say Dayne is the  best and hard to argue but honestly you could make a case for him or Gordon or Taylor.  Heck, in terms of pure production- carries, TDs, longevity it could be Montee Ball.  Speaking of which, if you want to see something incredible look up Ball’s HS statistics.   Ball had 41 TDs in his senior year of HS.  That’s ridiculous on just about any level.

I would go with Taylor.  Best combination of size, strength, quickness and probably the best vision of all the Wisconsin backs.   The numbers he put up in 3 seasons may never be equaled.  

 

Last edited by Tschmack
Music City posted:
MichiganPacker2 posted:

Amazingly enough, Joe Thomas, the best OL in Badger history and one of the top 5 left tackles in NFL history never had a great RB running behind him. 

I’ll bet Brian Calhoun sends him a Christmas card every year, though... dude got picked in the second round and I don’t think he started 15 games in his career. 

Peyton Hillis made the cover of Madden 2012 because of him.

Joe Thomas is definitely on the short list of the best NFL players to never play in a playoff game, certainly after the 1970 merger if not all time. Didn't miss a snap in something like 10 years. First team All-Pro 9 years in a  row (2nd team as a rookie). The team was 10-6 but didn't make the playoffs his rookie year, then they never went 500 again. He got hurt in his 11th year after 7 games and the team went 0-16. His last full year they were 1-15. The year before that 3-13. The Browns lost 41 of the last 43 games he was on their roster. 

I can't think of any player in any sport who was as much of a class act as Thomas was for the Browns. Literally the best player at one of the most important positions in the NFL, but he didn't try to get himself traded, he played 10,363 consecutive snaps (the longest streak in NFL history) for a team with terrible coaches, terrible QBs, terrible RBs, etc. He never complained, never threw anyone under the bus.

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/...after-triceps-injury

If anybody ever deserved to get traded to a winner at the end of his career it was him. 

How great is the stable of running backs at Wisconsin have to be if a Heisman winner, (Alan Ameche) doesn’t even get mentioned?

And man, as a kid during the programs darkest years, do I remember what temporary relief from the pain did Rufus Ferguson and Billy Marek brought.

I’m-going with Ron Dayne simply because he laid the ground work for all of the great modern Sconnie backs. He was so dominant. I always felt like he was our Earl Campbell.

Blair Kiel posted:

How great is the stable of running backs at Wisconsin have to be if a Heisman winner, (Alan Ameche) doesn’t even get mentioned?

And man, as a kid during the programs darkest years, do I remember what temporary relief from the pain did Rufus Ferguson and Billy Marek brought.

I’m-going with Ron Dayne simply because he laid the ground work for all of the great modern Sconnie backs. He was so dominant. I always felt like he was our Earl Campbell.

Been mentioned.

Just think about some of the other "lesser known" backs that actually had decent seasons (if not careers) behind those Badger OLines:

Carl McCullough in 93-97

Anthony Davis in 01-04

P.J. Hill in 06-08

John Clay in 07-10

Corey Clement in 13--16

It's always the OLine--not that the RBs haven't been talented, but the OLines have made een the "guys" look good at times.

Heck, even Booker Stanley, Taiwan Deal, and Eddie Faulkner had good games behind those lines.  Matt Bernstein had to play the featured bak when the other RBs were injured, and did all right.

 

I said it when I saw him as a freshman and I will say it now: Jonathan Taylor is the best RB I have ever seen at UW. He's the most natural runner, he is probably the most explosive and has the power too. I think he's one of the best RBs I have ever seen in college. 

Gordon was explosive but he was more of a gadget guy to me than Taylor. Many of his big runs were the jet sweep when that was a relatively new concept and teams hadn't figured out how to defend it. And for UW that was a play way out in left field. 

Dayne was just a monster. 275lb RB with feet and 4.5 speed.

There have been lots of great backs most mentioned. The Roadrunner, Billy Marek, Ira Matthews, PJ Hill,  John Clay, Chucky Davis.

How about Larry Canada,  Booker Stanley, and Larry Emery?

@AtTheMurph posted:

Gordon was explosive but he was more of a gadget guy to me than Taylor. Many of his big runs were the jet sweep when that was a relatively new concept and teams hadn't figured out how to defend it. And for UW that was a play way out in left field. 

His redshirt Freshman and Sophomore years, sure, but that because he was behind Ball/White, then White. His junior year he was a full time back and his footwork was impeccable. It was his suddenness... 0-60 in a blink. 

Last edited by Music City
@Music City posted:

His redshirt Freshman and Sophomore years, sure, but that because he was behind Ball/White, then White. His junior year he was a full time back and his footwork was impeccable. It was his suddenness... 0-60 in a blink. 

I think Taylor is more sudden and explosive. I also think he doesn't look to be as sudden or explosive as Gordon because he isn't as leggy as Gordon looks. Gordon has those long legs and I think it makes him look like he is probably faster than he really is.

I've seen Gordon run down from behind. I can't say that I've ever seen Taylor run down. And Taylor is almost 15 lbs heavier. Both were spectacular but for my money Taylor wins the prize. (and I would have given him the prize after one year.) 

Gordon has 3 FBS rushing records and 5 B1G records. If he starts 3 years, he has more.

Taylor was very fortunate he arrived with an empty cupboard. Gordon was behind Montee Ball and then shared carries with White. When he got the full time gig, he came within 42 yards of beating Barry Sanders’ single season record and set the single game record against a ranked Nebraska defense. As great as Taylor was, I take Gordon, especially his 2014 season, which is the greatest single season by a Badger back in their history.  

@AtTheMurph posted:

I think Taylor is more sudden and explosive. I also think he doesn't look to be as sudden or explosive as Gordon because he isn't as leggy as Gordon looks. Gordon has those long legs and I think it makes him look like he is probably faster than he really is.

I've seen Gordon run down from behind. I can't say that I've ever seen Taylor run down. And Taylor is almost 15 lbs heavier. Both were spectacular but for my money Taylor wins the prize. (and I would have given him the prize after one year

I might go with Dayne just for pure college performance.  He was there all 4 years and while he fumbled now and then, I felt like Taylor was more likely to put the ball on the ground.  

For pure talent that translates to the NFL, Taylor looks like he is the most talented of the big 3.  A 4.39 40 time at 225 lbs. is amazing.  I think the Colts got a steal with  him and I am not looking forward to the Packers facing him.