MADISON, Wis. – The Big Ten announced on Wednesday that Wisconsin junior running back Montee Ball is the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year, this year renamed the Graham-George Award after Otto Graham and Eddie George. He is the second Badger running back to win the award in three years, following John Clay in 2009.
Ball leads the country and has set a Big Ten and UW school record with 34 touchdowns this season. That is second only to Barry Sanders’ 39 TDs in 1988 in NCAA history. He is averaging a touchdown every 7.8 times he touches the ball and has scored more TDs that 29 FBS teams. Excluding Wisconsin, only four Big Ten teams scored more touchdowns than Ball did (24) in conference play.
Ball leads the Big Ten and ranks second in the nation with 1,622 rushing yards, the sixth-best total in school history. His 157.8 yards on the ground during Big Ten play were more than 30 yards better than Iowa’s Marcus Coker, who finished in second place. Ball also paces the conference in all-purpose yards, averaging 155.8 yards per game.
Named the Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year and unanimous first-team All-Big Ten on Monday, Ball was also a four-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week this year. He is a Doak Walker Award finalist, given to the nation’s top running back, and a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy.
Ball is the fourth UW player to be named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year since the award was instituted in 1982, and all four have been running backs. Brent Moss (1993), Ron Dayne (1999) and Clay were the others.
The Badgers square off with Michigan State on Saturday at 7:17 p.m. CT at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game. The game will be televised nationally by Fox. The winner of the game will earn an invitation to the Rose Bowl.