The country’s best running back couldn’t rush past the nation’s best quarterback.
Two days after winning the Doak Walker Award as college football’s most outstanding running back, Wisconsin junior tailback Melvin Gordon couldn’t get his hands on college football’s ultimate prize, finishing runner up to Oregon junior quarterback Marcus Mariota at the 80th annual Heisman Trophy presentation at the Best Buy Theater in New York Saturday night.
Gordon (1,250 points, 37 first place votes) did finished second in the voting, beating Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper by 127 votes the best result by Wisconsin player since the year Ron Dayne won the award in 1999.
Named on 95.16 percent of all the ballots (the highest of all time) and securing 788 first-place votes, Mariota finished with 2,534 points. His 90.9 percent of possible points received is the second most in the last 50 years (Ohio State's Troy Smith had 91.6 percent of the votes in 2006).
It’s already been week filled with accolades for Gordon. Named to the Walter Camp All-America Team, Gordon became the third Wisconsin back to win the Doak Walker, joining Ron Dayne in 1999 and Montee Ball in 2012.
He was announced as the winner of the Chicago Tribune Silver Football, which is presented annually to the Big Ten MVP in a vote of league coaches.
In a tremendous season for running backs nationwide, Gordon is the headliner. His 2,336 rushing yards this year represent the fourth-highest total in NCAA history, and he needs one touchdown to join Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders and UCF’s Kevin Smith as the only players to rush for 2,000 yards and score 30 TDs in a season.
Gordon became the fastest player to reach 2,000 yards in a season by hitting the threshold on his 241st carry of the season. During the Big Ten season, he ran for a conference-record 1,648 yards and set another league mark with his average of 193.6 yards per game.
For his efforts, Gordon was named both the Graham-George Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and the Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year.
Gordon and No.17 Wisconsin will begin preparations for No.19 Auburn in the 2015 Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., this week. It will be the last collegiate game for Gordon, who declared his intentions to turn pro Wednesday.