Hawkeyes Gearing Up for Gordon

Melvin Gordon grabbed headlines last week with a record-setting performance in Wisconsin's blowout of Nebraska. The Badgers star heads to Kinnick Stadium needing 91 yards against Iowa to become the 17th back in history to reach 2,000 yards. The Hawkeyes welcome the challenge of stopping the Heisman Trophy candidate.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - After hearing about Melvin Gordon's record-breaking performance, a thought darted through Carl Davis' mind.

"I was like, I feel sorry for the guys that have to deal with watching that film," Iowa's senior defensive tackle said.

Then-No. 11 Nebraska was on the receiving end of the Wisconsin running back's 408 rushing yards, a new NCAA mark. The Huskers had to relive it in reviewing game video with their coaches, surely an unpleasant experience.

Davis and the Hawkeyes attempt to avoid the recording of a similar horror movie featuring Gordon running through them Saturday at Kinnick Stadium ( 2:30 p.m. CT, ABC/ESPN2). Iowa can pull into a first-place tie in the Big Ten's West Division with a win.

"He's just a great running back," Iowa Defensive End Drew Ott said. "He hits it up into the A-Gap and he can bounce it outside with speed. We just need to bottle him up and get 11 guys to the ball every time."

It should be noted that Gordon totaled his yards in three quarters of the 59-24 blowout against Nebraska. He may have run for 600 had he played the final period.

Gordon leads the FBS with 1,909 ground yards this fall. The junior from Kenosha averages 8.6 yards per carry.

The Hawkeyes (7-3 overall, 4-2 Big Ten) rank 46th nationally in rush defense, allowing 147.8 yards a game. That places them sixth in the conference.

Star running backs have found success versus Iowa this fall. Pittsburgh's James Conner (29 carries for 155 yards) and Indiana's Tevin Coleman (15-219) enjoyed big days. Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner and running back David Cobb combined for 151 yards on 27 carries. Maryland signal caller C.J. Brown rolled up 99 on 21 after missing about a quarter of the contest with an injury.

Gordon (6-1, 213) darts out from behind a massive offensive line and makes people miss on the second and third levels. He breaks tackles as well.

"Get him to the ground however you can," Iowa Strong Safety Johnny Lowdermilk said. "He's an excellent back. I'm not going to be real picky about how I get him to the ground. I just have to get him to the ground."

The Badgers (8-2, 5-1) broke open a game they led by just one point at halftime last season in Iowa City and left town with a 28-9 win. The Hawkeyes contained Gordon (17-62) but let James White get loose for 132 and two touchdowns on 19 totes.

Sophomore Cory Clement complements Gordon this season with White off to the NFL. Clement has 742 rushing yards (6.2 per carry), which is more than any back on the Iowa roster.

"There's no surprise. Their strength is in their running game," Hawkeye Linebacker Quinton Alston said. "That's our first focus and we're going to take that personal. They're going to come out there and try to run the ball and we're going to try to stop it."

Wisconsin's success on the ground is reflected in its time of possession. The Badgers rank sixth in the country in that category.

Iowa rates 101 nationally in time of possession. The Hawkeyes need to close that gap on Saturday.

"It's on our offense to try to keep them off the field as much as we can," Iowa Running Back Mark Weisman said.

Adding intrigue to Gordon's day at Iowa will be the home crowd remembering him verbally committing to its team before signing with his home-state school. He's motivated by what he heard from the crazies at Kinnick Stadium last year.

“Those guys really did a good job stopping me,” Gordon told Madison.com this week. “I was frustrated. The fans were getting me even more frustrated. It was just a rough game for me.

“(The fans) are just so tight on you. It’s like they’re just in your ear all game. They were just bashing me. I’m not looking forward to going back there, I’m telling you.”

Iowa identified Gordon early in the recruiting process, were one of the first programs to offer him a scholarship and picked up his verbal commitment in August of 2010. Then Badgers Coach Bret Bielema kept pushing and flipped him in December.

"It's like ancient history," Hawkeye Head Coach Kirk Ferentz said. "He was, we thought, a great young man, outstanding prospect, didn't take Einstein to figure that out.  He was good in high school, and he's even better now. 

"So, you know, we dated for a while, he picked the home state school, which is usually not a big news headline.  That's kind of the way it went."

Gordon has reached 100 rushing yards in eight consecutive games and topped 200 four times this season.


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