Wisconsin has had its fair share of great running backs. In fact, two of them have won the Heisman Trophy, Alan Ameche in 1954 and, more recently, Ron Dayne in 1999.
This year, tailback Melvin Gordon is hoping to join that elite club when the Heisman winner is announced Saturday night at the Best Buy Theater in New York City.
The nation’s leading rusher led the 13th-ranked Badgers to a 10-3 record. They will face No. 19 Auburn in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 at noon Eastern.
The Heisman Trophy presentation will air on ESPN beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern.
Here’s what you need to know about Gordon:
The Gordon File
Rushing: 309 carries, 2,336 yards, 26 touchdowns, 179.7 yards per game, 7.6 yards per carry, longest run 88 yards
Receiving: 17 receptions, 151 yards, 3 touchdowns
597 rushes, 4,664 yards, 42 touchdowns, 106 yards per game, 7.8 yards per carry, longest run 88 yards
April 13, 1993 (21 years old)
Mary D. Bradford HS
Melvin and Carmen Gordon
Life Science Communication
Gordon enjoyed a very productive high school career, rushing for over 2,000 yards and 38 touchdowns as a senior. He was recruited heavily by the Big Ten, eventually deciding on Wisconsin over a handful of other scholarship offers.
Wisconsin is historically known for its running backs and Gordon’s 4,664 career yards have him fourth on the all-time list. He trails only Ron Dayne (6,397), Montee Ball (5,117) and Anthony Davis (4,676).
Gordon announced Wednesday he will skip his senior season to enter the 2015 NFL Draft.
Gordon’s biggest highlight of the season came on Nov. 15 against Nebraska when he set a then-FBS single-game record with 408 rushing yards. He accomplished the feat on 25 carries in just 3 quarters to break former TCU star LaDainian Tomlinson’s old mark by 2 yards. But just a week later, Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine ran for 427.
Regardless, Gordon, who hit the 200-yard mark in 4 other games, leads the nation by 300 yards and his 26 touchdowns are also tops in the FBS.
Gordon won the Doak Walker Award Thursday night as the nation’s top running back and recently was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.
Why Gordon Will Win
Because Gordon leads the country in rushing yards and touchdowns, and it’s really not that close. The second-leading rusher in the land is Tevin Coleman of Indiana, 300 yards behind. The man also ran for 408 yards in a game, for crying out loud.
Only twice has he been held to under 122 yards – last week vs. Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game (76 yards) and early in the season vs. Western Illinois (38 yards). Gordon’s 29 TDs (3 receiving) are tied for the most for all running backs with Jay Ajayi from Boise State.
Why Gordon Won’t Win
Because he’s rushed for a ton of yards but his team isn’t going anywhere. The Heisman Trophy is not an MVP award, but let’s not kid ourselves, it helps when the player’s team is in the national title hunt. Gordon’s main competition – Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper – are vying for the first-ever College Football Playoff championship.
Quarterbacks have been dominating the Heisman victories lately and since 1990, only 5 running backs have won (Rashaan Salaam, 1994; Eddie George, 1995; Ricky Williams, 1998; Ron Dayne, 1999; Mark Ingram, 2009).
Again, only 1 running back has taken home the statue since the turn of the century. Not exactly a good sign for Gordon.