THE last time a heralded Wisconsin running back showed up at Aloha Stadium before tonight, he left a lasting impression and a lot of footprints on the backs of Hawaii defenders.
Dayne left a
That was back in 1996 when Ron Dayne, then a freshman, ran for 339 yards and four touchdowns against UH.
They didn't call him the "Great Dayne" for nothing. He rushed for 250 yards by halftime and Badgers' coach Barry Alvarez sat him out the entire fourth quarter.
"The game was out of reach so there was no reason to leave him in," Alvarez said then. "I think records should be broken in the context of the game. He's going to have a lot of opportunities to break records."
Dayne went on to upstage Ricky Williams of the University of Texas -- another running back that UH faced as a freshman -- by breaking the latter's NCAA career rushing record and winning the Heisman Trophy as well.
One record that Dayne didn't set, which he well could have if Alvarez had left him in the game, was the NCAA single-game rushing record.
As it turned out, TCU's LaDainian Tomlinson broke it last year against Texas-El Paso with a 406-yard performance.
But Dayne's 339-yard game is still a UH opponent record, surpassing a 300-yard effort by Marshall Faulk of San Diego State in 1992. Tomlinson ran for 294 against UH this year.
I'm reminded of all this because the Badgers have a running back in Michael Bennett, who could put up the same kind of numbers tonight, Alvarez willing or unwilling.
Bennett, very likely, won't be stopped. But here's hoping Hawaii nevertheless can make a better game of it than it did against the Badgers in 1996.
Wisconsin then romped to a 59-10 victory -- still the worst UH loss at Aloha Stadium since the forgettable 1976 season.
OK, so you want to be reminded? The Rainbows lost their final two games that year, 59-0 to Oregon State and 68-3 to Nebraska.
Otherwise, the next worst home defeat came in 1998 to Michigan (48-17), ending a 0-12 season and the head coaching career of Fred vonAppen.
SO while Hawaii has been beaten badly time and again in road games, fans have rarely seen their boys get blown out at home.
They've actually split two games against Wisconsin at Aloha Stadium. They beat the Badgers, 20-17, in 1986 when Gregg Tipton completed 32 passes for 370 yards, both setting school records at the time.
It's assuring to know that quarterback Tim Chang has already surpassed Tipton's numbers in his first year.
UH will need Chang to put up the same kind of numbers if it's going to keep up its end of a track meet with the Big Ten Badgers tonight.
Speaking of Big Ten, I still remember vonAppen's comments about scheduling teams from that mathematically challenged conference. (The Big Ten has 11 teams, right?)
He admitted his Rainbows were outmatched against the Badgers and explained the difference is a matter of commitment to football.
"If you've seen Wisconsin's facilities and what they look like in comparison to us, you might say, well, but they're in the Big Ten. But then why in the hell are we playing them if we're not going to get up to speed with them? Because we can't recruit guys like what they've got."
In his second year, June Jones is trying to turn the UH football program around. He appears to be on the right track.
But, you know, Hawaii did beat Wisconsin once. So it's a matter of keeping up with the big boys, or don't bother.
It's worth every bit the bother, don't you think?
Bill Kwon has been writing about
sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.