Running back Jonathan Taylor’s latest Heisman-worthy performance, this time against the Michigan Wolverines, has the college football world buzzing.
Taylor racked up 203 yards and two touchdowns with ease against then-10th-ranked Wolverines in Madison, doing what even former Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne could not over the course of his Badgers career: Beat Michigan.
While Wisconsin has equaled and even surpassed their cross-division rivals (okay, so everyone seems to be Michigan’s rival in the B1G) in recent years, it’s been tough sledding for the Badgers over the all-time series: Michigan still holds a 51-16 all-time series edge over Bucky, and even the Barry Alvarez years saw plenty of heartbreak.
Taylor is the latest in a long line of superstar running backs to roll through Madison, with names like Melvin Gordon, Montee Ball, John Clay, the aforementioned “Great Dayne,” Dayne’s stunt double (not really) P.J. Hill and countless other wrecking balls disguised as ball carriers all conjuring up memories.
But perhaps the most underrated of them all was a former third-round pick who silenced the doubters and broke a six-game losing streak against the Wolverines in 2005, with a Forgotten Sports Heroes performance for the ages.
Brian Calhoun: The Man Who Broke the Michigan Curse
You won’t find Brian Calhoun’s name on the top ten all-time Badgers rushing list, but his place as a Forgotten Sports Hero in Badgers lore cannot be understated.
In 2005, with Wisconsin staring down the barrel of a 7-game losing streak to Lloyd Carr’s Wolverines, Calhoun took over the game in Madison, putting up 35 carries for 155 yards and a touchdown, to go along with 7 receptions for 59 yards.
While it wasn’t the typically dominant 6 or 7+ YPC performances we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from Wisconsin running backs (including Taylor’s game this past weekend), it was an unforgettable performance if only because of Calhoun’s toughness to grind out the 4+ yards per carry needed to wear down a Wolverines defense stacked with future NFL studs like Lamarr Woodley, Alan Branch, Leon Hall and Dave Harris.
Calhoun accounted for a whopping 74.6% of the Badgers’ total offense on the day, or 214 of the team’s 287 yards.
The highlights below document the heroism on full display from Mr. Calhoun.
With Michigan holding onto leads of 13-3, then 13-6, 13-9, and eventually 20-16, Wisconsin just kept on doing what Wisconsin does: handing the ball off to their star tailback and trusting in their gargantuan offensive line.
Calhoun’s signature timing, patience and vision are on full display in these highlights, including several key third down conversions in the fourth quarter to help the Badgers come out on top:
The game was eventually won not by a Calhoun run, but in surprising fashion, as seen at the 12:20 mark of the video below (Wisconsin’s QBs have always been deceptively good runners):
Calhoun’s Historic 2005 Season By the Numbers
Calhoun went on to rack up 1,636 rushing yards on the season, good for 10th place among all-time single season Badgers leaders.
The future 3rd round pick of the Detroit Lions, ironically enough, unfortunately played just two seasons in the NFL due to injuries.
But he capped off his stellar 2005 season with a Capital One Bowl MVP award in the Badgers’ 24-10 beatdown of the Auburn Tigers, showing off the skills that catapulted the Badgers program to unprecedented success.
Calhoun’s heroics were enough to make him an honorary captain earlier this year in a 61-0 victory over the Central Michigan Chippewas. Good to see his Badger heroics have not been forgotten.