A streak that has become synonymous with Wisconsin football has been broken. This is the first season since 1992 in which the Badgers have not produced a 1,000-yard rusher, discontinuing a tradition first set by Brent Moss in 1993 and continued by Terrell Fletcher, Carl McCullough, Ron Dayne, Michael Bennett and Anthony Davis.
Davis, who had a 1,466-yard season in 2001 and a 1,555-yard season in 2002, was expected to put up similar numbers this year. Injuries to both ankles hindered the tailback and kept him from playing part or all of nine games. Prior to Wisconsin's 28-14 loss to Auburn, the last complete game Davis played was against Purdue, where he had 96 yards and one touchdown. Against Auburn, he had 77 yards, including a 24-yard run with 3:50 left in the second quarter that fired him up; prior to that run, he had four yards total on four carries.
"It took me awhile (to get back into the flow)," Davis said.
Davis has struggled to find a rhythm since his first injury against UNLV and had 180 yards in the remaining four regular-season games in which he played. Against Auburn, however, Davis resembled the back that played against West Virginia and Purdue once he found his groove.
"I thought A.D. was in rare form today," quarterback Jim Sorgi said. "I thought he looked good, I thought he was making the cuts, making the reads, we were one block, one cut away from breaking away a couple of times and he'll be back healthy next year and he'll get his thousand (yards) next year."
Auburn showed up with one of the best run defenses in the nation and adjusted well to Davis, especially after he had five consecutive carries to open the third quarter, when he accumulated 27 yards. From that point, he had an additional 19 yards.
"They changed up what they were doing," head coach Barry Alvarez said. "You can't consistently just slam it in there. They changed their things up but we hit some seams and I thought Anthony hit some pretty well. Third quarter, there were only two possessions—we had a possession and they had a possession. Basically in the third quarter, that was it, so it's hard to get a rhythm and establish a run or anything."
"It's been up-and-down season for me personally and the team," Davis said. "We'll reflect on this game and the season and see how we can improve."