Death, taxes and Wisconsin having a dominant running back. Last year Wisconsin introduced college football to their next superstar running back. The recent lineage of Badgers include Jonathan Taylor, Ron Dayne, Melvin Gordon, James White and Montee Ball. The next superstar running back at Wisconsin is going to be Braelon Allen. The true freshman proved he was a capable of taking over the role last season. He is in line to be one of the best players in the Big Ten this season which is why he is the subject of today’s 99 Things. Oh, and he did this all while being only 17 years old last fall.
Wisconsin started Chez Mellusi for the first part of the season before Allen eventually got his chance to see the field. Allen totaled just 12 carries and 42 snaps in the first four games of the season before his breakout game against Illinois. He burst onto the scene rushing for 131 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown. Allen and Mellusi immediately became one of the best running back duos in the country. The two running backs would begin to split carries before Mellusi eventually suffered a season ending injury. Allen continued his workhorse mentality and finished the season with 1,268 yards and 12 touchdowns. 1,219 of those yards came in the final eight games of the season.
Most of the country did not know who Braelon Allen was before the season started and many fans are still unfamiliar with him. The 2022 season is going to be about consistency and focus. Last year Allen had the ability to surprise teams because they did not have film on him yet. After 186 carries last season this is no longer the case. Only Minnesota was able to shut Allen down last season holding him to 47 yards and only 2.8 yards per carry. How will Allen fare when teams limit his success? How will he bounce back after a rough series or he turns the ball over?
Scouts have already begun to compare him to Jonathan Taylor because his style of play is similar. Allen is never going to be a speed back leaving defenders in the dust. What Allen lacks in speed he is able to make up for with his strength. Allen keeps his pad level low and is able to break tackles. He has great vision and can make cuts to give himself extra yards. He will need to become more of a threat in the passing game in order to take his game to the next level. Allen finished with just eight receptions last season. Taylor’s junior season saw him finish with 26 receptions and five receiving touchdowns. Becoming a threat in the passing game will help his future draft stock and also help the offense become more dynamic.
The Wisconsin backfield is going to be loaded this fall. Mellusi returns from injury to give the Badgers a second option. By all accounts Allen is going to be the lead running back. He has superstar ability and has the potential to finish his career as an All-American. Wisconsin has a key matchup with Ohio State on September 24th. The Badgers are going to need Allen to be a top notch running back for them to even have a remote chance at winning. Wisconsin has not beat Ohio State since 2010 and they have not won in Columbus since 2004. If Wisconsin is able to beat Ohio State this fall it will be on the back of Braelon Allen.