Dayne hoping for rosy effort against UCLA
Posted: Monday December 28, 1998 02:41 PM
PASADENA, California (AP) -- The number 299 could make Wisconsin's star tailback Ron Dayne drool as he prepares for the Rose Bowl.
That's the number of yards rushing that UCLA's defense surrendered to Miami's Edgerrin James in a season-ending loss that knocked the Bruins out of the running for the national championship.
But Dayne, Wisconsin's all-time leading rusher who next season will try to break the Big Ten Conference career rushing record, is unswayed that it could foretell a big game for him.
"That is one guy," the soft-spoken Dayne said of James. "Every back didn't do that against them."
"I just want to go out and play hard and do my best. We know they are a great team and great athletes."
The sixth-ranked Bruins, 10-1, play the ninth-ranked Badgers, also 10-1, in the 85th annual Rose Bowl Friday. Wisconsin practiced Monday under sunny skies at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The 253-pound Dayne, 20, of Berlin, New Jersey, announced just before Christmas that he would return to Wisconsin next year for a final season rather than test his fortunes in the NFL.
"It wasn't a real difficult decision," he said.
One reason was Dayne probably wouldn't be a first-round pick. But family played a part too, he said. Dayne talked as a proud father, recalling how happy he felt watching his daughter Jada open her gifts on Christmas eve.
"I was having a lot of fun in college. I wasn't ready to leave my daughter yet. Her mother will be staying in school for her senior year so I wanted to stay so I could see my daughter and also see her," Dayne said.
Dayne, nicknamed "Wisconsin's Great Dayne," burst into the national spotlight in 1996, when he gained 2,109 yards and became the most prolific freshman in NCAA history despite not starting until the fifth game of the season.
After three seasons, Dayne has 4,945 yards, making him Wisconsin's all-time leading rusher. Next is the Big Ten career-rushing record, held by two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin of Ohio State, who ran for 5,589 yards.
After that looms the NCAA Division I record held by Ricky Williams of Texas, at 6,279 yards.
Senior offensive tackle Aaron Gibson said Dayne is easy to block for.
"You can't say too much bad about him. They might say his size, but he is as fast as anybody else," Gibson said.
UCLA coach Bob Toledo guessed that Dayne got half of his yards after some defender hit him, because he's such a bruising, punishing runner.
"We somehow need to become more physical in the next few days," Toledo said.
Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez downplayed expectations that Dayne could have a big day because of UCLA's defense.
"We didn't come into town on a turnip truck," Alvarez said. "All you have to do is look at their athletes. There are some excellent athletes. We haven't spent a lot of time looking at the Miami game because that is not indicative of how they play."
Copyright © 1999 CNN/SI. A Time Warner Company.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.