Column

Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon covers a lot of ground on a record day

Wisconsin RB sets a major college record with 408 yards rushing, accomplished in just three quarters

Melvin Gordon's remarkable day in Wisconsin's 59-24 win over Nebraska will be remembered, for many reasons, for many years.

The Badgers' star running back set a major college record with 408 yards rushing, accomplished in only three quarters.

Gordon broke the previous record held by Texas Christian's LaDainian Tomlinson, who rushed for 406 yards against Texas El Paso in 1999.

Gordon surpassed Tomlinson's mark on a 26-yard scoring run on the final play of the third quarter. He did not play in the fourth.

"Yeah, I didn't even know I was close to the record," Gordon said. "I was kind of just running away."

Tomlinson needed 43 carries for his 406, while Gordon required only 25 for his magical 408.

Tomlinson sent a congratulatory tweet following the performance.

"That kid @Melvingordon25 bad!! Congrats on breaking the NCAA single game rushing record. #respect."

Gordon carried Wisconsin by averaging 16.3 yards per carry.

His fantastic day also rekindled one of the great mysteries of the 2014 season: Why did Gordon carry only four times in the second half of the Badgers' opening loss to Louisiana State?

That Labor Day weekend defeat now looms large as No. 20 Wisconsin (8-2) wends its way up the College Football Playoff rankings.

Wisconsin led LSU, 24-7, in the third quarter of that neutral-site game in Houston.

Gordon carried only three more times after a 63-yard romp early in the second half.

LSU rallied to win, 28-24. Gordon had no explanation afterward for why he did not play.

"I was good, man, I was all good," he told reporters then.

Coach Gary Andersen later explained Gordon was held back after sustaining a hip-flexor injury late in the first half. Andersen said he thought Gordon looked a little gimpy after his 63-yard run and gave more of the load to Corey Clement, who had 14 second-half rushes for 41 yards.

Wisconsin's only other blemish this year was an Oct. 4 defeat at Northwestern.

You can't blame Gordon for that one, either, as he finished with 259 yards.

And here's the kicker . . .

The football gods can be brutal and redemptive, to the same person, in the same season.

Arizona kicker Casey Skowron thought he made the game-winning field goal to defeat USC on Oct. 11, only to learn Trojans Coach Steve Sarkisian had pulled the rug out by calling time out.

Skowron pushed his second attempt wide right and USC raced out of Tucson with a 28-26 victory.

It doesn't take a stamp and a letter these days for people to send out hate email. Reaction to Skowron's miss was as instantaneous as Instagram.

"You let the whole city of Tucson down, way to go," one ingrate tweeted, and that was the mild stuff.

The gods switched the script, though, in Arizona's home game against Washington on Saturday.

This time, Skowron missed the game-winning field-goal try, from 47 yards, but had his emotions reverse-jerked by Washington Coach Chris Petersen, who called time out before the snap.

Skowron got a second chance and nailed the kick as time expired in a 27-26 win.

Earlier in the game, Skowron ran 18 yards for a touchdown on a fake field-goal attempt.

Arizona improved to 8-2 and stayed alive in the Pac-12 South race, while Washington fell to 6-5. It wasn't a great decision-making day for Petersen.

Skowron's game-winner was set up by a late Washington fumble by Deovante Cooper, who was allowed run with the ball when simply taking a knee would have exhausted most of the clock.

Decision 2015

You can't blame Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer for saying in September that no matter what, "Braxton is our quarterback" next season.

Meyer was smart in trying to defuse any potential controversy.

Braxton Miller, the two-time Big Ten player of the year, was knocked out with a shoulder injury just before the Buckeyes' season opener.

No one, including Meyer, could have imagined backup J.T. Barrett would do the things he has ended up doing.

Except for one bad outing against Virginia Tech, in which three of Barrett's passes were intercepted, he has been spectacular in leading Ohio State back into the top 10.

On Saturday, in the Buckeyes' 31-24 win at Minnesota, Barrett broke three Ohio State records: touchdown passes in a season (38), yards rushing in a game by a quarterback (189) and longest run by a quarterback (86 yards).

Meyer, understandably, has started to walk back his earlier comments.

"I think they're both excellent quarterbacks," Meyer said before Saturday's game. "Excellent quarterbacks. And we'll worry about that day when it comes."

If Barrett keeps on playing like this, Meyer's "worry day" may come sooner than he wanted.

"Early in the season we had no idea who J.T. Barrett was," he said after the Minnesota win. "We have a very clear picture now."

Miller said he plans to return to Ohio State for his final season of eligibility. As a graduate, he could transfer to another school without sitting out a year.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

Twitter: @DufresneLATimes

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
57°