In the two weeks prior, a loss at Michigan State and a home win against Minnesota, Ball carried a total of five times for 16 yards.
Heading into a road game with No. 12 Iowa, Ball's last significant action had come in the fourth quarter of a 70-3 win over Austin Peay. But in the second quarter of the Iowa game, with the Badgers trailing 6-3, freshman sensation James White went down with a knee injury.
On his first play from scrimmage, a 3rd-and-12 from the Iowa 21-yard line, Ball took a shovel pass from Scott Tolzien and scampered 14 yards for a key first down. On the next play, Tolzien hit Bradie Ewing for a TD to put the Badgers back on top.
Starter John Clay continued to get most of the reps at tailback but Ball was called upon at key times. None bigger than the Badgers' final drive. He caught a fourth-down pass to help keep the drive alive, but his biggest play was an 8-yard run that punctuated the drive and gave the Badgers the lead. Seemingly carrying the entire Iowa defense on his back, Ball has first hit around the 5-yard line but just kept churning and reaching, finally stretching his arm across the goal line with 1:06 left in the game.
Since that point, Ball has been on one of the most remarkable runs (pun not intended) in Badger history. He ran for at least 127 yards in each of the final five games of 2010, including 132 against the No. 3 rush defense in the country, TCU, in the Rose Bowl. He also scored 14 TDs in those five games.
In 2011, Ball has reached an even higher standard. He leads the NCAA with 30 total TDs. He is just the fifth player in FBS history to score at least 30 touchdowns in a season and has a shot to reach the NCAA record of 39 set by Barry Sanders in 1988. Ball has already broken the Wisconsin and Big Ten records for touchdowns in a season and is averaging a touchdown every 8.0 times he touches the ball.
Ball is averaging 133.3 yards per game and ranks second in the country with 1,466 yards on the ground (just two yards behind the NCAA leader). He is even better during Big Ten play, averaging 158.0 yards per game. That's the best average for any RB in one of the six BCS conferences during league play.
Instead of "MoneyBall" Montee's nickname should probably be "Mr. November." In the last three weeks Ball has run for 613 yards, an average of 204.3 per game. In four November games last season, he averaged 161.3 yards.
Ball has also raised his game against the top competition. In three games against teams ranked among the top 16 in the country in total defense (Michigan State, Ohio State and Illinois), he has averaged 141.3 rushing yards, 159.0 all-purpose yards and scored seven touchdowns (four rushing, three receiving).
An added dimension this season for Ball has been his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. He ranks fourth on UW with 233 receiving yards and has caught five TD passes. His total of 1,699 rushing and receiving yards ranks third in the country among RBs.
As the season winds down and the national and conference award races heat up, the names that continually pop up on the national scene are Ball, Richardson (Alabama), James (Oregon) and Wilson (Virginia Tech). Within the Big Ten, Nebraska's Rex Burkhead and Iowa's Marcus Coker are having great years as well.
And with the Heisman Trophy race wide open, "MoneyBall" seems to be playing his way into that conversation as well.