Following in the footsteps of Wisconsin legends Alan Ameche and Ron Dayne, junior running back Montee Ball is headed to New York as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Ball was named one of five finalists Monday for the honor bestowed annually upon the top player in college football. That gives Ball an invitation to the 77th Heisman Memorial Trophy Presentation, which is set for 7 p.m. (CT) Saturday in New York City and will air live on ESPN.
The Big Ten Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year, Ball also was the winner of the Big Ten's inaugural Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year Award this season. He was named a first-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association on Monday.
With 38 total touchdowns on the season, Ball stands just one score shy of the NCAA record of 39 set by Oklahoma State running back -- and Heisman Trophy winner -- Barry Sanders in 1988. Ball has scored multiple touchdowns in each game this season -- and three or more TDs in eight of the Badgers' 13 games. Ball leads the nation with 32 rushing touchdowns and 1,759 rushing yards on the season, while his average of 135.3 yards per game ranks No. 4 nationally.
Ball's invitation to the Heisman ceremony comes on the heels of his four-touchdown performance in Saturday's inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game, which helped propel the Badgers to a second-straight conference title and Rose Bowl Game berth.