LOS ANGELES —
Ball has rushed for 1,730 yards and 21 touchdowns in the final season of his decorated career at Wisconsin. With three touchdowns in the Big Ten title game, Ball broke the FBS career record for rushing TDs with 76 while topping 5,000 yards for his career.
He was a Heisman Trophy finalist last season after scoring 39 touchdowns, and he rushed for 164 yards in Wisconsin’s loss to Oregon in last season’s Rose Bowl. Ball won’t catch Wisconsin career rushing leader Ron Dayne, the top ball-carrier in FBS history with 6,397 yards, but he’s done just about everything else possible in Madison.
When David Shaw was asked about his single biggest concern in the Rose Bowl, the Stanford coach was blunt: “He wears No. 28 for the other team.”
That would be Ball, of course. The Cardinal have replicated Ball in practice with Stanford backup running back Barry Sanders — yes, the son of that other Barry Sanders, whose single-season record of 39 touchdowns for Oklahoma State was tied by Ball last season.
“His career reminds me so much of Stepfan Taylor,” Shaw added. ““He’s got great vision, great balance. He waits for the blocks and to happen, and then he explodes. You never see him get in (bad) body position. He doesn’t turn the ball over. He doesn’t sacrifice the good play to try to make the big play. He makes the plays he’s supposed to make, and then makes more. He’s just one of those complete running backs that we have a lot of respect for.”