It has been 10 years since Ron Dayne brought home the Heisman Trophy to the University of Wisconsin. Who could forget his historic run against Iowa in 1999 to break the NCAA rushing record Or his performance in the 2000 Rose Bowl with 34 carries for 200 yards and a touchdown. To commemorate Daynes monumental 1999 season, UWBadgers.com will provide weekly updates with memories from the 1999 season. Today, we look back at the home opener from 1999, where it all began for Dayne on his quest towards the Heisman Trophy.
It only took one half, but Ron Dayne got his 1999 Heisman Trophy campaign out to a solid start in the season-opening game against Murray State. Over 77,000 fans came out to Camp Randall Stadium on the sunny Saturday afternoon to see the first game of a season that will be remembered forever by Badger fans.
Dayne entered his final season at Wisconsin with 5,091 rushing yards and had the goal of breaking Ricky Williams NCAA rushing record on his radar (6,279 yards). Dayne scored the Badgers first two touchdowns of the game and gave the team a 14-0 advantage with 8:07 left to play in the first quarter.
He scored his first touchdown of the season on a three-yard scamper, which capped off an eight-play, 60-yard drive. On Wisconsins next possession, which began at the Murray State 15-yard-line, he carried the ball twice before rushing over the left guard 15 yards into the end zone.
Daynes third and final score of the day came in the second quarter after a 14-yard run up the middle.
The record was on Dayne and head coach Barry Alvarezs mind, but neither was going to risk it that early in the season. He carried the ball once more in the second quarter and finished the season opener with 20 carries for 135 yards.
There was no reason to put Ron back in there in the second half, Alvarez said to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after the game. There are 10 games left. There is a lot of football left. There will be games where he will be carrying in the fourth quarter. Dont panic. Ron will get plenty of touches.
The Badgers were fine without Dayne as they took a 42-7 lead into halftime and eventually won the game 49-10.
Alvarez remembers his decision to take out Dayne after the second quarter and he still believes it was the best decision to make his Heisman campaign meaningful.
For him to be the all-time leading rusher, I wanted to do it within the context of the game, Alvarez said recently. I knew there would be games that would be out of hand at halftime. I did not want to cheapen his numbers by running him in the second half. If he broke that record, I wanted everyone to know that he did it legitimately.
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