MADISON - Melvin Gordon will have a chance to accomplish one of the main goals he set out for himself before his 2014 season.
After a tremendous regular season in which he broke the school’s and conference’s single season rushing record, Gordon was named one of the five finalists for the 80th Heisman Trophy.
“It’s been a goal of mine and it just shows what type of year I had and how hard I worked," said Gordon. "I came back to help my team and do some things to become a better player, as well, and I think this is showing that.”
Gordon is the second Badgers running back (Montee Ball) to be considered for the award in the last four seasons and the fourth finalist overall, all of which have played running back for the Badgers. Alan Ameche (1954) and Ron Dayne (1999) won the award, while Montee Ball (2011) finished fourth in the final balloting.
“It’s a good feeling," said Gordon. "Those guys, especially Montee are guys I looked up to my freshman year … As a freshman, thinking how would you feel to be in his shoes, and now I’m actually in them, it’s a good feeling.”
The Big Ten's running back and offensive player of the year, Gordon enters the bowl season first in the nation with 2,336 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns and fourth in yards per carry (7.56). He is also a finalist for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s best tailback, and the Maxwell Award, given to the college player of the year. Those awards are handed out Thursday.
Rushing for over 100 yards in 12 of 14 games this past season, Gordon held the NCAA single game rushing record when he ran for 408 yards against Nebraska. His record lasted one week.
Gordon's rushing total ranks No. 4 all-time on the single-season list, while his TD total ranks as the second-highest in Big Ten history. Only Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders, who had 2,628 rushing yards in 1988, UCF’s Kevin Smith, who tallied 2,567 in 2007, and USC’s Marcus Allen, who had 2,342 in 1981, have rushed for more yards in a season than Gordon. He became the fastest player to reach 2,000 yards in a season by hitting the threshold on his 241st carry of the season.
Gordon’s next touchdown would make him just the eighth player in FBS history to score 30 touchdowns in a season. He would also join Sanders and Smith as the only players in FBS history with at least 2,000 rushing yards and 30 TDs in a season.
Oregon junior quarterback Marcus Mariota is considered the front runner for the Heisman, which will be presented Saturday at 7 p.m. CT at the Best Buy Theater in New York City. Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper is the other finalist.
“This is a good feeling,” said Gordon. “It really shows all the hard work you put in in the offseason. I think it’ll really hit me when I make it down to New York.”