RB Respect Month, Day 25: Ron Dayne vs. Utah (1996)

College football's true rushing King.

RB Respect Month, Day 25: Ron Dayne vs. Utah (1996)

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Welcome to day 25 of Running Back Respect Month™️! Yesterday, LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 300-plus yards on UTEP for the second time in his career. Here's where we're at today, and how the rest of the month looks:

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Today: Ron Dayne vs. Utah (1996)

RB Respect Month, Day 25: Ron Dayne vs. Utah (1996)

The first thing we need to do when the NCAA dies in the next five years is give Wisconsin's Ron Dayne his rightful throne as college football's rushing king. With all due respect to San Diego State's Donnell Pumphrey, the crown belongs to Dayne:

If you're unfamiliar with why this take is a thing, let me break it down:

The NCAA didn't start counting bowl game stats until 2002, rendering the extra 728 yards Dayne gained in four postseason contests as mere exhibition stats. Our nation's most inept athletic organization –which is saying something– also decided to not retroactively count bowl stats prior to 2002, a choice that Dayne himself has rallied against. With all due disrespect to the NCAA: Ron Dayne has the most yards rushing in college football history, and we're going to celebrate that fact today.

Another all-time record Dayne would have if not for this ridiculous decision is having the most rushing yards ever by a freshman. His 1,863 mark in 1996 stood until Adrian Peterson's 1,925-yard 2004 at Oklahoma, before both fell to Dayne's fellow Badger, Jonathan Taylor in 2017:

Taylor finished with 1,977, aided by 171 extra yards he gained from Wisconsin playing in the Big Ten Title and a bowl game. That would be 132 yards short of Dayne's 2,109 if the 1996 Copper Bowl against Utah counted towards his totals:

Dayne ran for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns against an overmatched Utah defense who simply had no answer for a running back who could plow them over, but also do this:


In a nice bit of symmetry, Dayne had two more 200-yard bowl games, including an identical 246-yard 1999 Rose Bowl vs UCLA:

One day, Ron Dayne will have justice and be rightfully recognized as college football's leading rusher - even if it takes me never shutting up about it to help it happen.