Ball is rollin’ and runnin’ into the record books

Wisconsin running back ties the NCAA record at 78

With one more touchdown run, Montee Ball will outrun his college competition and into the record books with 79 career touchdowns. He tied the NCAA record Saturday against a stiff Ohio State run defense with a 7-yard touchdown run. Enlarge photo

Darron Cummings/Associated Press file photo

With one more touchdown run, Montee Ball will outrun his college competition and into the record books with 79 career touchdowns. He tied the NCAA record Saturday against a stiff Ohio State run defense with a 7-yard touchdown run.

MADISON, Wis. – Montee Ball was in charge of the entertainment for Wisconsin’s senior day.

Needing just two touchdowns to become the all-time leader in major college football, the Badgers running back would’ve liked nothing more than to get the record Saturday when Wisconsin (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten) hosted unbeaten Ohio State in Ball’s final game at Camp Randall Stadium.

“It’s going to be extra special to do it at home – if it happens,” he said before the game. “It’d be ideal to break a record like that on home turf, in front of our fans.”

Ball, who had a 7-yard touchdown run in the game, has 78 career touchdowns after running for three scores against Indiana last weekend. That’s three more than 1998 Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams, and he tied the FBS record holder Travis Prentice of Miami (Ohio).

Making Ball’s run all the more impressive is that he didn’t even become a starter – heck, a regular contributor – until midway through his sophomore season. Still, the career record seemed like a given after last year, when he scored 39 touchdowns to match Barry Sanders’ long-standing single-season mark. The Heisman finalist would need only 18 touchdowns to pass Prentice, and he’d averaged almost three per game in his previous 20 games.

Then Ball was attacked by several men as he walked home Aug. 1 after a night out with friends. He was knocked to the ground and kicked in the head and chest, leaving him unconscious and with a concussion. The injuries sidelined him during training camp, and Ball – and the Badgers – continued to feel the effects as their season got off to a rocky start.

“I stumbled a little bit out of gate, the first couple games of the season,” Ball said. “That goes back to not being able to practice during camp. I knew that was going to be the case, and it was. But it didn’t take long to get back.”

He now has 17 touchdowns this year, as many as Idaho’s entire team.

“He’ll be a fine NFL running back,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “He’s got great vision; he’s very durable. ... He’s got great acceleration, much faster than I originally thought. He’s a big-time, big-time back.”

With a big-time offensive line in front of him.

The Badgers have a long, proud history of stellar running backs, and the Wisconsin linemen take pride in playing a part in that.

“He does most of the work out there, and we get taken along for the ride sometimes,” offensive tackle Rick Wagner said.

“That’s one of the reasons we all came here and want to be O-linemen. We’re going to get that chance to focus on the run,” Wagner said. “We don’t want to be a big passing school here. We want to use the O-line to its full advantage.”

Wisconsin running back Montee Ball leapt over the Buckeyes and into the record book. He scored a on a 7-yard touchdown run to tie the NCAA touchdown record with 78 scores. Enlarge photo

Andy Manis/Associated Press

Wisconsin running back Montee Ball leapt over the Buckeyes and into the record book. He scored a on a 7-yard touchdown run to tie the NCAA touchdown record with 78 scores.

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