This football season has been frustrating at times for Badgers fans, but it could still be a pretty special year. Against all odds, Wisconsin is still in a position to make it to the Big Ten Conference Championship Game in Indianapolis. And what’s even more impressive is that running back Melvin Gordon is still in a position to win the Heisman Trophy — and he’s positioned well.
I suppose Heisman voters simply can’t ignore his jaw-dropping statistics any longer. A month ago Gordon could hardly be found on any top 10 Heisman lists. Now he’s up near the top in ESPN experts’ newest Heisman Poll (No. 3). He’s the highest ranked running back on the list. Of course this is after the controversy with Georgia’s running back Todd Gurley accepting money for signed memorabilia went public.
I guess running for 253, 181, 259, and 175 yards in a four-week span gets you noticed.
Oct 4, 2014; Evanston, IL, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon (25) runs with the ball against the Northwestern Wildcats during the second half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Gordon has simply been on fire this year, he’s the one part of this offense that can be depended on in every game. He’s come out and played better in the second halves of many of these games, too (like a Heisman Trophy winner should). He has scored 14 total touchdowns this year (he scored 12 a year ago) and he’s on pace to rush for more than 2,000 yards on the year. If Gordon puts up 25-28 touchdowns and runs for 2,000 yards you can bet he’ll still be in the thick of the Heisman conversation, despite Bucky’s lack of consistency.
His statistics say everything: 1,046 rushing yards, 14 total touchdowns, 7.9 yards per rush, with two games of at least 250 yards rushing and two games of at least 4 touchdowns (in only six games). Plus, he averaged 8.8 yards per carry against LSU.
Lets look at his competition for the most prestigious individual award in the country:
Dak Prescott – Mississippi State, Quarterback: He’s ESPN’s front-runner to win the Heisman because the Bulldogs are undefeated and he’s played lights out this year. But, once the Bulldogs lose (if they do) the shine will come off of his campaign a bit. Mississippi State still has to play No. 7 Alabama and No. 3 Ole Miss. If he underperforms in either game and drops the Bulldogs from playoff contention, Gordon could swoop in and steal the award.
Marcus Mariota – Oregon, Quarterback: Mariota is still ranked barely ahead of Gordon in ESPN’s Heisman predicting poll. The Ducks lost to Arizona and that severely hurt Mariota’s Heisman odds, but he’s still a threat to win it. Although, his production has stalled a little bit and Oregon has to face its rival No. 23 Stanford and No. 20 Utah this year. If they lose either game he will most likely fall out of contention for the Heisman — especially with how Gordon is playing.
Besides these two players no one else is really close to Gordon in ESPN experts’ poll — or in my eyes either. Notre Dame’s quarterback Everett Golson is receiving a few votes, same with Todd Gurley (who is currently suspended). The other running back from the Big Ten with Heisman hopes is Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, but according to ESPN Gordon is miles ahead of Abdullah (who received only one vote in ESPN’s poll).
If anyone from the Big Ten wins the Heisman, it will be Gordon. He’s hoping to be the third Wisconsin running back to take home the Heisman Trophy (Alan Ameche, Ron Dayne) and the third to win the Doak Walker Award (Dayne, Montee Ball). I think Gordon is almost a lock to win the Doak Walker, which is annually given to the nation’s top running back. And that’s not the worst constellation prize, either.
Here’s to hoping Gordon continues to tear it up and brings a third Heisman Trophy to Madison. He’s certainly good enough to do it.