Having always had a fellow 100-yard rusher in the 13 career games he surpassed the century mark, White finished with 132 hard-earned yards and two touchdowns to lead No.22 Wisconsin to a 28-9 victory at Kinnick Stadium Saturday.
"I just wanted to come out and do whatever I could for my team," said White, as the Badgers improved to 14-0 when White surpasses 100 rushing yards. "I feel like I started off pretty slow, but I just tried to lock in and come out the second half and leave it all out there."
Entering the weekend leading the Big Ten in rushing at 296.9 yards per game and having rushed for 231 yards in six of seven games entering the season, Wisconsin (6-2, 4-1 Big Ten) entered the fourth quarter averaging only 3.7 yards per carry with its longest rush going for a paltry 13 yards. Not surprising, the Wisconsin lead was only 14-9.
Iowa (5-4, 2-3) entered the game fifth in the Big Ten in rushing defense (128.6 ypg) and had allowed only five runs of 20 yards or more and two rushing touchdowns this season. The Badgers only had one such run of 20 yards or more, but it delivered the dagger.
One series after White rushed for an 11-yard score, giving UW a 12-point advantage with 6:29 remaining, White had a convey of fullback Derek Watt, left guard Ryan Groy and tight end Jacob Pedersen around the left side, giving him a clear alley for a 59-yard gain down to the Iowa 17.
Six plays later, White was in the end zone for his second rushing touchdown and 43rd of his career.
"They're a team that prides itself on stopping the run," said White. "They had only given up two rushing touchdowns prior to today, so that's something we wanted to get accomplished – run the ball into the end zone."
Most of the running back attention in the week leading up to Wisconsin's first matchup with Iowa in three seasons was about sophomore Melvin Gordon, who originally committed to the Hawkeyes in August of 2010 going into his senior year at Kenosha Bradford.
Gordon eventually flipped his commitment three months later around Thanksgiving, citing the ability to play closer to his parents and play for a program appearing to be headed in a better direction, a factor he realized after taking an uninspiring official visit to Iowa City.
White – another UW tailback who had an Iowa offer before committing to the program late in the process – had his own vendetta against the Hawkeyes. White was leading Wisconsin in rushing during his 2010 freshman season when he was knocked out during the second quarter with a sprained knee injury after only six carries and 10 yards.
With White on the bench, it opened the door for sophomore Montee Ball, who scored the game-winning touchdown in the 31-30 Wisconsin win and never relented until he graduated following last season's Rose Bowl.
"James told me all week that he wanted to get after Iowa, especially after what happened his freshman year," said Gordon, who finished with 62 yards on 17 carries in his first game against the Hawkeyes. "This definitely was a big game for him. He was practicing hard. He had a hard week of practice. He definitely went out there and the results paid off."
With the stadium bleachers right on top of both benches, White said he heard the chirps from the Hawkeyes fans throughout the first three quarters. After returning to the sideline following his second touchdown, those same fans who had been in his ear were gone, presumably heading for the exits.
All that remained behind the Wisconsin bench were red-clad fans, ready to see another celebration with the Heartland Trophy.
"James was (hot)," said Gordon. "He got the ball today and he definitely proved what he could do."