Big Ten season halfway finished: How have the Badgers fared?

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Melvin Gordon looks for open field against Maryland. Jim Oxley photograph

Key offensive players

Several players have been major forces for the Badgers offense this season.

Melvin Gordon

It will come as no surprise that Melvin Gordon tops the list of key offensive players.

Other than a 17-carry, 38-yard stinker against Western Illinois earlier this year, Gordon has simply been brilliant.

He’s taken 173 carries for 1,296 yards (fourth in the country) and 18 scores (second in the country). His 7.5 yards per carry average is twelfth best in the nation, as well.

The Heisman candidate has proven he is worthy of the many preseason accolades he received, and is on a short list for the best back in college football.

What may be most impressive about Gordon’s performance is the statistics he has compiled while splitting carries with our next key player.

Corey Clement

Corey Clement looks up the field during a game against Maryland. Jim Oxley photograph

Wisconsin running backs have come in pairs recently (John Clay-Montee Ball, Montee Ball-James White, James White-Melvin Gordon) and Corey Clement is certainly continuing that tradition.

Clement has 106 carries for 697 yards and 7 touchdowns, and is averaging 6.6 yards per carry. He’s been a perfect compliment to Gordon, helping Wisconsin have one of the top one-two running back punches in all of college football.

Offensive line

While the Badgers feature two incredibly talented running backs, their successes would be minimized without Wisconsin’s massive, and talented, offensive line.

Wisconsin’s third ranked run offense averages 333.4 yards per game, and is second in the country with a 7.1 yards per carry average as a team. In the passing game, Wisconsin has given up just 7 sacks this year.

Senior tackle Rob Havenstein has garnered plenty of attention, as he was named to the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award watch lists prior to the season. His strong play, along with the rest of the offensive line, has helped Wisconsin churn out the yards on the ground.

Alex Erickson

Alex Erickson hauls in a long throw from Joel Stave and falls into the endzone for a touchdown. Jim Oxley photograph

Wisconsin’s passing game has been abysmal…and that’s putting it lightly.

One bright spot, however, has been the emergence of Alex Erickson as the No. 1 receiver.

Statistically, his 32 receptions for 440 yards and two touchdowns might not scream playmaker, but the former walk-on has come up big for Wisconsin when they’ve needed him.

Two long receptions against Maryland gave us a glimpse of his ability, and if another receiver makes the jump to become a legitimate No. 2 option, Wisconsin’s receivers should be able to give the struggling QB play more reliable options.

Erickson was unable to finish the Rutgers game after an injury, but Gary Anderson told the Wisconsin State Journal earlier this week that he expects Erickson to be healthy for Purdue.

*Stats courtesy