The Future is Now

Often the third tailback in Wisconsin's deep arsenal, redshirt freshman Melvin Gordon took his 56 yards for a touchdown and never slowed down. Finishing with career and team-high 216 yards on only nine carries, Gordon's first-half spark ignited the offense to another conference championship.

INDIANAPOLIS - Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said earlier in the season that, ideally, he wanted to give redshirt freshmen Melvin Gordon five-to-10 carries per game. As the season progressed, Gordon had been getting on the field more in sweep plays, hinting that something big was on the horizon.

In Saturday's Big Ten Championship Game, Gordon's "coming out party" finally arrived.

In Wisconsin's 70-31 demolishing of No.14 Nebraska at Lucas Oil Field, Gordon rushed 216 yards – on just nine carries - and one touchdown, one of a school-record eight scores the Badgers had on the ground.

"We talked about making history," said Gordon, with a rose sticker on his shirt. "That's what we tried to do today."

On the Badgers' fourth play from scrimmage, Gordon slid around the edge of the line set by senior tackle Ricky Wagner on an end-around for a 56-yard touchdown. That run would set the pace for the Badgers' offense on a historic day.

"Football is all momentum, and me doing that definitely gave us the momentum and we just didn't let it go," Gordon said about the run. "Last game we kind of dropped the ball a little bit and let Nebraska rally back, but we just tried to keep our foot on the pedal this time."

The play wouldn't have been gone for nearly as many yards if junior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis wasn't locked onto his block downfield. The jet-sweep runs that Gordon was running set up the Badgers to run between the tackles, even if he didn't get the ball.

"I definitely knew as soon as I hit a couple big ones," said Gordon. "I told the coaches, ‘James and Montee, it's in the clear.' I'm a big team player so I was like the jet is there but, feed these guys the ball because the holes are open. They had a great game too."

Added Montee Ball: "He opened up a lot for us. Coach Hammock always told him ‘even if you don't get the ball carry out those fakes' and he did a great job at that."

The run was Gordon's first carry of the game, which seemed like most games this season that it was going to be the extent of Gordon's use in the game. Part of that was true. Gordon got most of his carries from the jet sweep, gaining 152 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone.

Gordon's longest gain came just before the half when it looked like the Badgers were going to run the clock out with a 35-10 lead. That all changed when James White picked up 12 yards on a second-and-6 at the Badgers' 25 yard line. After that, Wisconsin called a timeout and the rout was on.

The very next play, Gordon took a jet sweep handoff 60 yards to the Nebraska three-yard line, breaking three tackles on the way there. Nebraska wasn't able adjust correctly. When the Huskers tried shifting the defense to stop the end-around, Gordon cut up field and still gained decent yardage.

The Badgers lined up in the ‘barge' formation the next play, but caught the Huskers guessing when White threw his first career touchdown pass to a wide-open Sam Arneson to go up 42-10 at halftime.

"[The message was to] just keep your foot on the pedal," Gordon said about the message Bielema gave the team at halftime. "We just said it's 0-0. We're going to keep it like that and keep that momentum on our side and we weren't going to let up. We definitely going to let Nebraska come back this time around and get after us."

The rest of the Badgers' backs carried the rest of the load. Montee Ball was named the game's most valuable player with his 202-yard, three-touchdown performance. White had a modest day too, carrying the ball 15 times for 109 yards and five total touchdowns (one passing). The trio combined for 552 yards on 48 carries, each racking up at least 100 yards.

It was the first time in school history that three Wisconsin running backs rushed for over 100 yards in the same game.

The MVP was awarded to Ball for his performance, but it could've easily been given to Gordon. Ball even tried to have Gordon to come on stage to receive the award. When Gordon was blocked, Ball handed the MVP trophy down to him.

"I just told them that this one belongs to all of us, all the running backs," Ball said. "The offensive did a great job today; the fullbacks, wide receivers blocking down the field. We came with a mindset that today was going to be our day.

"I was waiting for the day for him to explode like he did today. He's going to be a great player."

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