While University of Miami fans are not exactly thrilled about their Hurricanes going against the Wisconsin team (7-5, 5-4 Big Ten) that thumped the Canes (7-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) in last year’s Capital One Orange Bowl, you can bet that UM’s vaunted defense is pumped about facing the No. 1 running back in America.
On Thursday night in Atlanta, Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin was named the 2018 winner of the Doak Walker Award, which goes to the top running back in the country.
The 5-11, 221-pound Taylor, whose 3,966 career rushing yards through this, his sophomore season, are the most in history by an FBS running back, led both teams with 130 yards on 26 carries in last year’s Orange Bowl game.
This season, Taylor has 1,989 yards and 15 touchdowns on 280 carries for a 7.1-yard-per-carry average.
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Taylor’s right offensive guard, senior Beau Benzschawel, was named a first team Walter Camp All-American along with him Thursday.
“It means everything,” Taylor said during the Home Depot College Football Awards, which was televised by ESPN. “The guys that have won it at my school, they’re some of the best to ever run the ball.”
Taylor, from Salem, New Jersey, became the fourth Doak Walker Award winner from Wisconsin, joining former winners Melvin Gordon (2014), Montee Ball (2012) and Ron Dayne (1999). He also was a Doak Walker finalist last year, and is only the fourth player in FBS history to rush for more than 1,900 yards in back-to-back seasons.
As for that UM defense, it ranks second nationally in total yards allowed, behind Michigan, with 268.3 yards allowed a game. Michigan allows 262.5 yards a game. In a 38-13 loss at Michigan on Oct. 13, Taylor ran for 101 yards, his second-worst rushing performance of the season. His worst performance: 46 yards on 11 carries in a loss at Northwestern on Oct. 27.
Miami’s run defense is 24th nationally, allowing an average of 127.5 yards a game.
Taylor’s best 2018 performance: 321 yards and three touchdowns in a triple-overtime victory at Purdue.
The Hurricanes are No. 1 nationally in tackles for loss (10.5 a game), No. 1 in passing yards allowed (140.8 yards a game) and No. 1 in third-down conversion percentage defense (23.7-percent).
Canes senior defensive tackle Gerald Willis was named a second-team All-American this week by Sports Illustrated.