Ron Dayne's four-year run at history is over, and his reward is another bouquet of roses.
On the biggest day in Wisconsin football history, Dayne broke the major-college career rushing record as the No. 9 Badgers claimed the outright Big Ten title and earned a return trip to the Rose Bowl with a 41-3 rout of Iowa on Saturday.
Dayne broke Williams' record with 4:32 left in the second quarter on a 31-yard run toward the Wisconsin sideline. He finished the game with 216 yards rushing and a touchdown on 27 carries, giving him 6,397 yards for his career, or 118 more than the 6,279 Williams gained at Texas.
The Badgers (9-2, 7-1) finished their regular season by winning seven straight games and clinching a return trip to the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. Wisconsin, which beat UCLA 38-31 in Pasadena last year, will be playing in consecutive Rose Bowls for the first time in school history.
Williams broke Tony Dorsett's 22-year-old record last season. Dayne, who needed 99 yards on Saturday to beat Williams, gained just 39 yards on his first 12 carries but ended up with the 11th 200-yard rushing game of his career, tying the record held by Williams and Marcus Allen of Southern California.
"I tried to do everything I usually do," Dayne said. "It seemed like a normal game."
That is, until the postgame ceremony, when the school unveiled his name and No. 33 on the press box at Camp Randall Stadium. While not an official number retirement, it was close.
Wisconsin led 27-3 at halftime and was never challenged by the Hawkeyes (1-9, 0-7), who lost their seventh straight. Chris Chambers caught two touchdown passes, and quarterbacks Brooks Bollinger and Matt Kavanagh rushed for TDs.
After the game ended, the sellout crowd stayed and roared as Dayne and the Badgers were honored at midfield. The crowd held up 70,000 white signs with Dayne's No. 33 written in red.
Even Alvarez, who has been coaching from the press box since undergoing knee surgery six weeks ago, hobbled down to the field with 11 minutes remaining in the game. He grabbed Dayne in a joyous bear hug before watching the rest of the game on crutches.
"The first time I met him, I hugged him, so I think it was only appropriate that I hugged him when he broke the record," Alvarez said. "I'll never forget that big smile of his. He just lit it up."
Dayne was most excited about the Badgers' second straight conference title. He and the Badgers accepted their Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl invitation after the game.
|Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, and his players, celebrate with the Big Ten championship trophy.|
Shortly after the game began, the final score from Michigan's upset of Penn State (9-2, 5-2) was flashed on the scoreboard, drawing a huge cheer from the crowd. Wisconsin had a half-game lead on Penn State in the conference race before Saturday's games.
"I think our league is better this year than a year ago," Alvarez said. "If we're not the best league in the country, we're pretty close, so to win it outright is special."
There was little doubt Dayne would set the record against the nation's 109th-ranked rushing defense; the only question was when. Wisconsin's offense moved the ball at will, finishing with 604 yards.
The Badgers finished in a tie with Michigan and Ohio State for the conference title last season, but the Nittany Lions' second straight loss left the Badgers alone this time around.
It was Dayne's day, but Bollinger, a freshman, was the game's star. He threw for 144 yards and rushed for 113, throwing three first-half touchdown passes, two to Chambers.
The crowd's chants of "RON! DAYNE!" grew louder in the third quarter, and Dayne responded with a 38-yard rush to the Iowa 3. But Dayne couldnt get in the end zone on three tries, and the Badgers turned the ball over on downs.
Dayne rushed three times for 30 yards late in the third quarter before leaving the game midway through a scoring drive. The crowd gave an ovation, but saved its loudest cheers for the postgame ceremony honoring Wisconsin's four-year starter at tailback.
"What's not to love about the guy if you live here?" Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz asked. "But if you're on the other side of the line or outside the state borders, he's nothing but a headache. What a great performer."
Alvarez and Dayne spoke to the crowd. Alvarez will undergo another knee operation next week but expects to be on the sideline for the Rose Bowl.
©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed