With four games remaining, Texas tailback Ricky Williams ranks second on the major college career rushing list and is on the verge of passing all-time leader Tony Dorsett.
Williams needs only 444 yards to pass Dorsett, which might sound like a forgone conclusion, since he has averaged a national-best 212 yards a game this season. Through the Longhorns' first seven games Williams has compiled 1,484 yards, putting him at 5,639 for his career.
But what makes the chase especially compelling is that he and the Longhorns -- a surprising 5-2 in coach Mack Brown's first season -- face four defenses in the coming weeks that are anything but willing foils.
Consider that Nebraska, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M have allowed an average of only 2.9 yards a carry this season, and they've allowed only an average of 113 yards rushing per game.
Williams needs to average 111 yards per game the rest of the way against the four toughest rushing defenses he has faced this season.
Last year. Texas did not face Nebraska. Against the other three, Williams managed only 79 yards against Oklahoma State and 80 against Texas Tech, but bulled his way for 183 against Texas A&M.
"I don't play for records," Williams said this week, but for the Longhorns to continue their winning ways, he might have to set the record.
The senior from San Diego spent his first two years at Texas as a fullback, moving to tailback only last season, and then surprisingly staying at Texas through a head coaching change.
But for him to win the Heisman Trophy, he will probably need a solid performance Saturday against Nebraska and beyond, particularly considering the way Kansas State sat on him for only 43 yards on 20 carries Sept. 19. Still, if he passes Dorsett, one way or the other, that would mean he's gained at least 1,928 yards this season, and it would be difficult for Heisman voters not to nod in his direction.
Tony DorsettIn his four-year career at Pittsburgh (1973-76), Dorsett rushed for 6,082 yards, averaging 5.7 yards a carry. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1976 after rushing for 1,948 yards and leading the Panthers to an 11-0 regular-season record. They went on to beat Georgia 27-3 in the Sugar Bowl, with Dorsett rushing for a record 202 yards as Pitt captured the national championship.
Dorsett became the Dallas Cowboys' first pick of the 1977 NFL Draft, and he went on to become a four-time Pro Bowl selection and twice played in the Super Bowl.
|5.||Archie Griffin||Ohio State||1972-75||5,177||845||6.13|
Williams vs. NebraskaThis is the second time the teams have met since the Big 12 was formed in 1996, with Texas shocking the Cornhuskers 37-27 in the inaugural conference championship game. Williams, then a fullback, carried only eight times, for just 7 yards.
Williams: 1998With 1,484 yards this season, Williams has 332 more than any other player in college football.
He's loaded up, however, against less-than-imposing teams, and the way Kansas State stacked him up for just 43 yards on 20 carries shows he can be stopped if the Longhorns don't balance up the offense. But quarterback Major Applewhite has hit some key passes in recent weeks, helping to make Williams almost unstoppable over the course of an entire game.
|1||New Mexico St.||36||FONT face="arial" size="2">215||6||20|
Williams: CareerAveraging 6.4 yards a carry through his career -- that's far better than any other player on the Top 10 career list -- Williams already owns nine NCAA records, including career rushing touchdowns (69), career touchdowns (71) and career points scored by non-ickers (428). He has topped 300 yards twice, 200 yards 10 times, and 100 yards in 24 games.
Here's a glance at the four rushing defenses that Williams and the Longhorns face in the coming weeks, with three of the four ranking among the Top 20 in the country:
Tony Dorsett's major-college career rushing record has lasted 22 years and had not been seriously threatened previously.
Before Ricky Williams decided to return to Texas for his senior season -- needing the 1,928 yards to pass Dorsett -- no one had been within 484 yards of the mark, which had been aided by the lure of pro football's big bucks.
Georgia's Herschel Walker (1983), San Diego State's Marshall Faulk (1993), Iowa State's Troy Davis (1997), and Texas Tech's Byron Hanspard (1997) each skipped his senior season to leap to pro football. Here's a glance what each would have needed as a senior to pass Dorsett:
|Marshall Faulk||San Diego St.||1,494|
|Troy Davis||Iowa St.||1,701|
|Byron Hanspard||Texas Tech||1,864|
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