Dayne poised to set new rushing mark

by David La

Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne, a running back who combines a battleship-like upper body with the legs of a speedboat, is poised to reach a landmark NCAA record this weekend against Iowa.
The senior All-American needs 99 yards to overtake Ricky Williams’ mark of 6,279 career yards rushing, set last year. Dayne began the 1999 season 19th on the NCAA’s all-time list.
“This has been a long time coming and it’s nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Badgers coach Barry Alvarez said. “He’s worked extremely hard and he’s been a very consistent player. No one has meant more to a program than he has to ours. I’ll be very proud of Ron and our football team when he achieves that record.”
Interestingly, the confident Alvarez spoke of “when” — not if — Dayne breaks the record Saturday. Maybe that’s because the Hawkeyes are dead last in the Big Ten in run defense, allowing 220.1 yards per game.
“He’s like a great scorer in basketball, he’s going to get his yards just like a great scorer is going to get his points,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We’re going to try to slow him down a little, but to think we’ll be able to shut him down is foolish.”
It seems all Dayne needs to do is show up and run.
“In isn’t like we’re going to be a passing team this week,” Dayne said. “We’re a running team, so I plan on getting the record.”
Purdue quarterback Drew Brees, the Big Ten’s most prolific passer, announced Monday his decision to return to college for his senior year.
The Heisman candidate undoubtedly drew cheers in West Lafayette, Ind., and jeers from defensive coordinators around the Big Ten.
Minnesota defensive coordinator David Gibbs, when asked whether he’d heard the news, did not answer right away. Instead, his eyes took on a far-away look.
“Sweet,” Gibbs sarcastically said. “I can’t wait.”
While Gibbs can wait, Boilermakers coach Joe Tiller is glad the wait is over.
“The question (about Brees leaving for the NFL Draft) was out there this summer and early fall when we began the season,” Tiller said. “Then it kind of went away.”
Tiller admitted to prodding his signal caller just a tad for the collective psyche of the team.
“This was only going to intensify, so I asked, ‘What are you thinking? Are you prepared to make a decision? If not, that’s fine, but if you are, we’ve got a chance to put an end to the rumors and allow us to concentrate on our next football game.'”
A bowlful of Big Ten
Minnesota’s sixth win makes it the sixth Big Ten team to qualify for a bowl game.
Seven is the highest number of Big Ten representatives to ever compete in one season’s worth of bowl games. Ohio State and Illinois need one win each to become eligible.
The conference is partnered with six bowl games — the Rose, Citrus, Alamo, Outback, Sun and Micron PC — and is eligible for Bowl Championship Series selection.

David La Vaque covers football and welcomes comments at