Wisconsin Football Countdown: No. 33, Ron Dayne


As the countdown to the first Wisconsin football game of the season continues, Badger of Honor is taking a look at Badgers by the numbers, checking in on a different Badger or Badgers players who wore the number corresponding with the remaining days until the Badgers head to Texas to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide Saturday, Sept. 5.

Next up in our countdown, signifying 33 days until college football is back, is Ron Dayne.

One of the most memorable players in Wisconsin football history, Dayne spent 1996 to 1999 at Wisconsin after committing to the Badgers out of Overbrook High School in Pine Hill, New Jersey.

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Then-head coach Barry Alvarez convinced Dayne to come to the Wisconsin, and Dayne went on to become one of the best running backs in college football history.

A four-year starter, Dayne was and is still recognized as the epitome of a Wisconsin football running back. He was a downhill runner in every sense of the word, and specialized in running over, through and — regardless of his 5-10, 259-pound frame — past people.

In his career, Dayne took 1,220 for a FBS record 6,397 yards (not including bowl games). His regular season plus bowl games total yardage is 7,125.

That record still stands today.

Dayne totaled 1,863 yards his freshman season, 1,421 as a sophomore, 1,325 as a junior and 1,834 yards as a senior, breaking Ricky Williams‘ career rushing record in the final game of the season against Iowa.

Dayne helped the Badgers win back-to-back Rose bowls in 1999 and 2000, rushing for 246 yards in 1999 and 2000 in 2000 to earn MVP honors in both games. He was the third player in Rose Bowl history to repeat as the game’s MVP.

His list of college accolades is impressive: In 1999 alone he won the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Award, the Chic Harley Award, the Doak Walker Award and the Jim Brown Award. He was named the Big Ten Player of the Year, the AP Player of the Year, and was a consensus All-American selection.

In total he was a three-time All-American, a three-time first-team All-Big Ten selection, and a two-time Big Ten Champion.

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He left college having run for 200 or more yards 12 times, tied with Williams and Marcus Allen as the only three players to accomplish the feat. He was one of five players in college football history to rush for over 1,000 yards in four seasons.

Dayne set nearly every rushing record imaginable at Wisconsin, and while many of those records have fallen after efforts from the likes of Montee Ball, Melvin Gordon, and the long line of running backs that have followed Dayne, there’s no question Dayne represents the power running game Barry Alvarez installed at UW.

And while many of Dayne’s single-game and single-season marks have been topped, it’s hard to imagine his career yardage record — 7,125 yards — falling any time soon, especially in today’s college football world where players leave early for the NFL.

Dayne’s NFL career started in 2000 as the 11th overall pick in the NFL draft to the New York Giants. Dayne and the Giants went on to play in the Super Bowl in his first season in New York.

Dayne played for New York from 2000-2004, spent 2005 with the Denver Broncos, and finished out his career in 2006-2007 with the Houston Texans.

Dayne finished his NFL career having played in 96 games, totaling 3,722 yards on 983 carries (3.8 yards per carry), scoring 28 touchdowns and losing just three fumbles in his career.

Jim Oxley photo

Wisconsin didn’t wait long to permanently set aside No. 33 after Dayne graduated, as his jersey was retired in 2000.

In 2011 Dayne was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame, and in 2013 was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

The Big Dayne running back of the year award is now named the Ameche Dayne Running Back of the Year Award after Wisconsin’s two Heisman Trophy-winning backs, Dayne and Alan Ameche.

Who wore No. 33 first?

• End Myron Welch first wore No. 33 in 1927.

Who wore No. 33 last?

• Dayne was the last Badger to wear No. 33 before it was retired.

Stay tuned to Badger of Honor as we continue our daily countdown in preparation of the season opener against Alabama.

Next: Wisconsin Football Experience

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