NEW YORK CITY — The milestones kept piling up for University of Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor in the Badgers’ 35-3 win over Miami on Thursday at Yankee Stadium.
The sophomore rushed for 205 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries, his fifth 200-yard performance this year, and tied Melvin Gordon’s program record of 12 100-yard rushing games in one season.
“He’s the best back in the country. There’s not much else I can say,” UW tight end Jake Ferguson said. "It’s awesome watching him run. There’s nothing better."
On UW’s first drive of the game, the sophomore became the third Badgers player to rush for 2,000 yards in a season, the most of any FBS program, joining Ron Dayne (1996, 1999) and Gordon (2014).
Taylor also became the sixth UW player to reach 4,000 rushing yards in a career, a mark that also made him just the fifth player in FBS history to rush for 4,000 yards over a two-season span.
"The kid’s special,” UW left guard Michael Deiter said. "All you’ve got to do is give him a little bit of something and he’s going to make you right even if you’re wrong."
Taylor began the game by gaining 29 yards over the Badgers’ first three plays from scrimmage, which set up Jack Coan’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Kendric Pryor.
UW Safety Eric Burrell intercepted Miami quarterback Malik Rosier on the Hurricanes’ first offensive snap and returned it 30 yards to the Miami 7-yard line. Taylor scored on the next play, giving the Badgers a 14-0 advantage less than 4 minutes into the game.
“It was really important,” Taylor said. “Once their defense gets rolling, it’s kind of hard to stop this team. So coming off a turnover, it was imperative that we punched it in."
The Salem, N.J., native also ripped off a 41-yard gain late in the third quarter, moving UW down to the Miami 5-yard line. That led to Alec Ingold’s 2-yard touchdown run that gave the Badgers a 21-3 lead and essentially put the game away.
Taylor finished the season with 2,194 rushing yards, the second-most for a Badgers running back in a single season. He won the Doak Walker Award earlier this month as the nation’s best running back and finished in the top 10 of Heisman Trophy voting each of the past two years.
Entering his junior season, Taylor needs 2,235 more rushing yards to break the FBS career rushing record of 6,405 yards set by San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey in 2016. That, however, would oddly still not give Taylor the UW record for career rushing yards. The NCAA did not recognize statistics in bowl games until 2002, and Dayne has a career total of 7,125 if those are included.
Even if Taylor fails to reach that lofty number, he’ll have an opportunity to stand among some of college football’s best-ever running backs with one more strong season.
“What JT’s done, it’s as good as there is,” UW coach Paul Chryst said. “And the thing that I’ve appreciated as much as anything is how he’s done it — the way that he works and the teammate that he is. … We all know he’s truly special in a lot of ways."