Sunday, November 25, 2012

Montee Ball's FBS Recording Setting Day

Some draft pundits questioned why Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee Ball, a Heisman finalist in 2011, returned to college instead of going to the NFL. Those murmurs got louder as Ball struggled through the first half of the season. Fortunately Ball turned it on as the season progressed, starting with a nice performance against Illinois (19 carries for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns).

Following Ball's breakout performance against Illinois, he went on an assault of the FBS touchdown record. Ball eclipsed Brock Forsey (68 touchdowns at Boise State from 1999-2002), Taurean Henderson (69 touchdowns for Texas Tech from 2002-2005), and Ricky Williams (75 touchdowns at University of Texas from 1995-98) for the second most touchdowns in FBS history earlier this season. That left Ball alone in second place behind Travis Prentice (Miami of Ohio from 1996-99) for the most touchdowns in FBS history.

Go back and read the Top 5 list of most touchdowns in FBS, everyone on that list is essentially a no-name guy besides Williams. I say no-name based on NFL production because all the players obviously put up gaudy college touchdown totals but I would bet even the biggest college fans could not name the entire Top 5 list. Taking it one step further, even if you gave the biggest college football fans the Top 5 list, how many could tell you where Forsey and Henderson went to college?

Vastly different indiscretions by the Ohio State (improper benefits scandal) and Penn State (a Catholic church-esque child molestation cover up) football programs rendered both teams ineligible for post season play. That meant the Wisconsin Badgers clinched a berth in the 2012 Big 10 Championship Game as winners of the ridiculously named Leaders Division (Indiana Hoosiers, Illinois Fighting Illini, Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions, Purdue Boilermakers, and Wisconsin Badgers) before they played the Buckeyes at home or the Nittany Lions on the road despite trailing both the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions in the Leaders Division Standings.

The Badgers lost to both the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions to finish the 2012 regular season with a disappointing record (7-5, 4-4 in Big "Ten") behind Ohio State (12-0, 8-0 in the Big "Ten") and Penn State (8-4, 5-3 in the Big "Ten"). The long bright spot in those loses were Ball's pursuit on the all-time FBS touchdown record.

A rushing touchdown by Ball against the Buckeyes tied him with Travis Prentice for the most touchdowns in FBS history with 78 touchdowns. Right as Ball was about to score another touchdown against the Buckeyes to simultaneously set the record for most touchdowns in FBS history and send the game into overtime, Ball fumbled to delay the ending to the future cheesy sports movie for another week. Luckily Ball scored a touchdown against the Nittany Lions to make him the sole record holder for the most touchdowns in FBS history.

Ball is now firmly entrenched on the Wisconsin Running Back Mount Rushmore with Ron Dayne, Anthony Davis, and Brent Moss. Sorry to John Clay and P.J. Hill for removing you both as the two-headed, over-sized running back monster that occupied the fourth spot on the Wisconsin Running Back Mount Rushmore until this season. Ball will undoubtedly be the most impressive NFL running back out of the group just mentioned, but that is not saying much because for how well the other members of the Wisconsin Running Back Mount Rushmore were in college, they all had lackluster professional careers.

I say Ball will be the most impressive running back to come out of Wisconsin because although he does not have a flashy running style, he is a patient running back that accelerates once the hole opens and prolongs runs with some impressive spin moves. I see Ball as the perfect running back for the zone blocking scheme in the NFL. Take this with a grain of salt but Ball reminds me of Arian Foster of the Houston Texans, an undrafted running back out of Tennessee that has a legitimate claim to being the best running back in the NFL not named Adrian Peterson. That is a long ways of saying I think Ball is the perfect running back for the Packers, especially if they can get him with a mid-round pick.

Now that Ball is the all-time touchdown leader in FBS history, the real question is whether he deserves a spot on the Wisconsin Football Mount Rushmore before every playing a snap in the NFL? Clearly Ron Dayne, Alan Ameche, and Joe Thomas are set in stone but that leaves one open spot. I am sure I will miss at least a few names but here are a bunch of honorable mention candidates: Darrell Bevell, Chris Chambers, Lee Evans, Jamar Fletcher, Brent Moss, Mark Tauscher, Anthony Thomas, Troy Vincent, Mike Webster, and Russell Wilson.

Leaving all the honorable mention candidates aside, there are two candidates striving for the final spot: Two-Headed Toon (wide receivers Al (father) and Nick (son) are the best father/son combo in program history) or Montee Ball. Even when you add up both Toon's production they still do not equal Ball's impact so congrats to Montee Ball, not only have you scored the most touchdowns in FBS history, but you are officially the fourth member of the Wisconsin Football Mount Rushmore.

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