Gordon hits stride, Wisconsin romps
By Tamira Madsen The Sports Xchange MADISON -- Running back Melvin Gordon finally hit the ground running for No. 19 Wisconsin. Gordon rushed for 248 yards on 13 carries and collected a career-best five touchdowns to pace Wisconsin to a 68-17 win ...
By Tamira Madsen
The Sports Xchange
MADISON - Running back Melvin Gordon finally hit the ground running for No. 19 Wisconsin.
Gordon rushed for 248 yards on 13 carries and collected a career-best five touchdowns to pace Wisconsin to a 68-17 win over Bowling Green on Saturday.
The junior’s five touchdowns tied a Wisconsin single-game record, and he joined a list of six players who accomplished the feat.
Wisconsin broke its all-time overall team rushing record with 644 yards, which is a school record and modern era Big Ten Conference record.
That mark surpassed a 564-yard performance against Indiana in 2012.
Gordon, who had 17 carries for 38 yards in the Badgers’ win two weeks ago over Western Illinois, capped his performance with a 69-yard run for a score on the second play of the third quarter that pushed Wisconsin’s lead to 47-10.
Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said Gordon’s determination has been commendable.
“The unselfishness of Melvin Gordon for the last couple three weeks as we’ve gone through the first part of the season has been incredible,” Andersen said. “I’m so proud of the way he’s handled it. 0
And today was his day. It was great to see him have the success.”
Gordon said he doesn’t pay attention to the Heisman Trophy buzz that surrounded him at beginning of the season, but the he said he was motivated to perform better based on his effort against Western Illinois.
“I don’t care too much,” Gordon said about the Heisman discussion. “Because I see now: They’ll love you one second and hate you the next. You can’t really get too caught up in that.”
Quarterback Tanner McEvoy, a community college transfer in his third career start, showed a multi-faceted attack on the ground and in the air.
The junior rushed for a career-high 158 yards and a touchdown, and was 10-of-17 passing for 85 yards and an interception as Wisconsin won its second straight game at Camp Randall.
Gordon’s first career lost fumble in his 322nd carry set the stage for the Falcons first touchdown.
Bowling Green defensive lineman Kendall Montgomery had the fumble recovery, and on the next play, wide receiver Fred Coppet ran 35 yards to tie the score, 7-7, with 11:35 left in the first half.
Coppet, a sophomore, has scored in four straight games.
Bowling Green coach Dino Babers said he was impressed with Gordon’s talent and his ability to shrug off defenders.
Babers felt the game got away from Bowling Green once Gordon hit his stride in the running game, and Wisconsin’s offensive line wore down the Falcons.
“There’s no doubt that’s the best tailback I’ve seen in a long time,” Babers said. “We helped him, there’s no doubt about it. There’s a shiftiness about him, then you see his breakaway speed, and then heck, I saw two or three stiff arms.
“You can hit a wall once or twice and it might dent a little, but over the long haul that thing is going to stand up. It was obvious that they were a lot more physical than us, a lot stronger than us, and that was the difference in the game.”
Quarterback James Knapke, making his third career start for Bowling Green, was 13-of-28 for 163 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.
The Falcons (2-2) managed only 271 total yards of offense, including 93 rushing yards. Junior running back Andre Givins led the team in rushing with 67 yards on five carries.
Wisconsin overcame a sluggish first quarter to pound Bowling Green, and received key contributions from several players.
Senior Kenzel Doe amassed 187 overall yards, including 165 on punt and kickoff returns, and senior linebacker Derek Landisch had 3.5 tackles for losses, including two sacks.
Although Wisconsin persevered with Gordon’s run game, Andersen said the defensive performance also was worth noting, particularly considering the Bowling Green’s speed with using a no-huddle offense.
Landisch made an impact with pass rushing when it was needed, according to Andersen.
“One thing that jumps up at me is his ability to get inside those guards and the center a lot of time ... and get past across and have a lot of pressure,” Andersen said.
McEvoy collected more rushing yards than Gordon in the Badgers’ win over Western Illinois, and trash talked his teammate about the accomplishment.
It didn’t take long for Gordon to point out to his quarterback that he topped the team in the run game this time around.
“End of the game, I had to let him know because he was giving me crap about it,” Gordon said of his conversation with McEvoy.
“If I wasn’t on my game, he probably would’ve got me. He’s performing, so I’ve got to be on top of my game, otherwise he’ll be bashing me and remind me about his stats.”
BADGER BITS: RB Ron Dayne holds the all-time rushing record for Wisconsin. Dayne rushed for 339 yards against Hawaii on Nov. 30, 1996. ... Wisconsin extended its winning streak to 31 games against nonconference opponents, dating to 2003. ... Gordon became the seventh player in Wisconsin history to run for 250 yards or more in a game. The list includes Dayne, Michael Bennett, Bill Marek, Anthony Davis, Zach Brown and Brian Calhoun.