The Collegian
Sunday, May 31, 2020

Melvin Gordon breaks FBS rushing record

Wisconsin running back contends for Heisman Trophy

When you’re having a game like University of Wisconsin Badger Melvin Gordon had on November 15, the only person capable of stopping you from running for NCAA records is your coach.

Gordon ran for a single-game NCAA FBS record 408 yards on Saturday against the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cornhuskers. He broke this record in three quarters of play — the score was so lopsided that his coach pulled him out for the fourth quarter.

LaDainian Tomlinson previously held the rushing record after he ran for 406 yards against UTEP as a member of TCU’S Horned Frogs in 1999. Tomlinson’s accomplishment was anchored by 166 rushing yards in the fourth quarter. Gordon’s was anchored on the first three.

Gordon’s first two possessions of the game resulted in a loss of a yard followed by a short 3-yard gain. There was no early indicator that it would be a breakout game for one of the lesser-known Heisman contenders, but, by the end of the night, Adam Rittenberg of ESPN named him in second place for the award behind Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

“I think he’s the best of the best,” Wisconsin coach Gary Anderson told “He proved it on the national stage when he was given the opportunity … If I made that decision, it’s going to this guy right here.”

The Big Ten rivalry game was supposed to be a closely contested game for the top spot in the Big Ten West standings and a matchup of two top-25 teams looking for the spot in a conference title game. But Wisconsin took over in the second quarter and did not give up the lead. 

Gordon’s performance really picked up with nine minutes remaining in the first quarter, when he ran for 42 yards to set up a Badger field goal. By the end of the third quarter, his team was leading Nebraska 52-17.

Gordon’s 408 yards came on just 25 carries and were highlighted by a couple of 60-yard runs and 4 touchdowns.

The Badger running back has now increased his season total to 1,909 rushing yards, and he is averaging 190.9 yards per game.

The Washington Post’s Chuck Culpepper asked the question of how many more yards Gordon could have picked up. He wondered what the outcome could have been without two fumbles from Gordon and the one-sided score.

“By the time he got to 408, you almost wished Nebraska could have pitched in a few quick scores so Anderson wouldn’t have to remove Gordon after the third quarter,” Culpepper wrote. “Could he have made 500?”

While Gordon did not reach 500 yards, the chances are now higher than ever for him to earn a trip to Manhattan in December as a Heisman finalist for the presentation of the coveted award. 

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