After beginning the 2014 season with anemic stats on the ground, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon came roaring to life against Bowling Green on Saturday. Managing just 38-yards a week prior in the Badgers home opener against Western Illinois, the junior overcame a fumble on his first carry Saturday, putting up four touchdowns and 179 in just the first half. By the end of the day, Gordon would have the best day of his collegiate career, earning five scores and over 250 yards against a Falcons defense that seemed lost from the beginning.
Speaking to reporters following the game, the Kenosha native said that his performance was a response to the skeptics who were doubting his chances at the Heisman after his first two games of the year were marred by low yardage and a loss in the season opener against LSU. Gordon put his name definitively back in the early running on Saturday, however, earning nearly 20 yards per carry. And though his odds of actually being named the first Badger to take home the coveted honor since Ron Dayne in 1999 are low against the likes of Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Notre Dame’s Everett Golson, Saturday’s performance put him back in the ranks of the nation’s top backs.
Beyond Gordon’s impressive 253 yards on the ground, five other Badgers contributed to Wisconsin’s record setting rushing game in their dominating 68-13 win over Bowling Green. Quarterback Tanner McEvoy averaged over 14 yards on 11 carries of his own, including a touchdown. Sophomore and fellow running back Corey Clement added another pair of scores on 11 carries for 111 yards.
Dare Ogunbowale came close to becoming the fourth Badger to put up 100 rushing yards on the day, finishing with 94 yards. Kenzel Doe and George Rushing combined to add another 30, bringing Wisconsin’s total to a whopping 644 yards on the ground, a Big Ten single game record in the modern era.
Prior to 1946, only Minnesota and Ohio State had managed more yards on the ground then Wisconsin did on Saturday. The Gophers had 832 yards against Northwestern in 1905 and 663 playing host to North Dakota in 1927. Ohio State rushed for 718 in 1930 against Mt. Union.