Wisconsin Football Countdown: No. 26, Billy Marek


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 26 days until college football is back, is Billy Marek.

Marek was a bruising running back for the Badgers from 1972-1975, and by the time he left UW, his name was firmly planted in Wisconsin history.

Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin Badgers /

Wisconsin Badgers

Because he suffered from Osgood Schlatters disease — an ailment that affect the knees of teenagers — he started football late. Despite the challenges, he went on to become one of the most successful backs in school history.

Marek is Wisconsin’s seventh all-time leading rusher, totaling 3,709 yards in his Wisconsin career. He sits in fifth place all-time at UW with 44 touchdowns, one score shy of a third place tie between James White and Melvin Gordon. He averaged 5.16 yards per carry in his career, a top-10 figure in Badgers history.

He’s one of a handful of Badgers players to produce a five-touchdown game, a feat he achieved against Minnesota in 1974. He’s a member of Wisconsin’s 300-yard club, breaking the 300-yard mark in that 1974 five-touchdown game against Minnesota. His 304-yard output was, at the time, the highest single game total in school history, although multiple Badgers have since topped the total. He had five 200-plus yard games and seventeen 100-plus yard games in his career.

In 1974, Marek led the NCAA with a 12.7 points per game average. He topped the 1,000-yard mark in each of his three season’s as a starter — the first Badgers player to do so — rushing for more than 1,200 yards each year. He led the Badgers in scoring each of those seasons.

He was a three-time selection as a first-team All-Big Ten player, and was a second team All-American in 1974. Marek was Wisconsin’s team MVP in 1975.

He was inducted into the Wisconsin Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.

Who wore No. 26 first?

• Halfback Frank Cuisinier first wore No. 26 in 1927.

Who wears No. 26 now?

• Two Badgers currently wear No. 26. On offense, senior fullback Derek Strauss wears the number. Defenisvely, true freshman cornerback Elijah Strong wears the number.

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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