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Is Jonathan Taylor the Big Ten’s best running back?

Wisconsin freshman RB Jonathan Taylor is making huge waves in his first season at UW, is he the B1G’s best though?



The College Football world loves them some Saquon Barkley, and it’s hard not to marvel at the guy with his highlight reel moments and all. But, there is a running back at the University of Wisconsin who is doing Barkley better than Barkley is.

Yes, I said it…

Before Saturday’s game at Nebraska the Taylor for Heisman talk seemed like a joke. Then Taylor became just the second freshman running back to go for over 200 yards in multiple games in his first season.

It just so happens he joins a former Badger named Ron Dayne in that category.

Could Taylor join Dayne not only in the record books but in winning a Heisman Trophy? Do the numbers make him the best running back in the Big Ten?

The numbers back me up here.

Taylor has played in five games, starting four, and has racked up 767 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s also averaging 153.2 yards per game.

All of those numbers top the Big Ten and he sits in the top 10 in the country for rushing yards, yards per game and touchdowns. In fact, his nine touchdowns are tied for second in the country behind Florida Atlantic’s Devin Singletary.

Saquon Barkley? He’s played six games and has over 100 fewer total rushing yards, is averaging nearly 50 yards less per game and has three fewer touchdowns on the season. Again, all of that while having played an extra game and having five more carries too.

The Nebraska game could be a huge indicator of where things are heading for Taylor and the Badgers as a whole.

Taylor put up a season-high 249 yards and had two touchdowns, all the while ripping off big plays seemingly at will in the second half. He averaged 9.9 yards per carry and helped lead one of the most impressive finishes to a game this season.

Wisconsin went nuts on the ground in the fourth quarter, putting up 125 yards in just that quarter alone. That and stout defensive play saw the Badgers run the quarter, owning all but 1:44 of the final stanza.

Much of that success was because of Taylor’s production, as Wisconsin never even threw a pass in the fourth quarter and used a pair of 10-play drives to score the final two touchdowns of the game in the final quarter.


If Taylor is going to get more national talk, a lot is going to depend on the Badgers continuing to win and on Taylor continuing to put up monster numbers.

So far, so good on both fronts.

What was once a joke is becoming serious talk. It is time to talk about Jonathan Taylor being the best running back in the Big Ten, if not college football right now, and that should have him in the discussion for the Heisman Trophy too.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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