Did Melvin Gordon wrap up Heisman Trophy with record-setting performance?

The Badgers are using the hashtag #MelvinMoment to hype his Heisman Trophy campaign. On Saturday that hashtag was about as appropriate as possible, with Gordon setting the single-game FBS rushing record with 408 yards rushing. However, was it enough for Gordon to cement himself as the frontrunner for the award?

Well, let’s consider the moments that made Gordon’s record-setting day possible:

  • Junior RB Melvin Gordon set a school, Big Ten and FBS record with 408 rushing yards on 25 carries (16.3 ypc.). The NCAA single-game record was 406 rushing yards by LaDainian Tomlinson (TCU) vs. UTEP, Nov. 20, 1999. The Big Ten record was 377 set by Indiana’s Anthony Thompson at Wisconsin on Nov. 11, 1989.
  • Gordon now has 1,909 rushing yards on the season, fourth-best in school history. He is averaging 190.9 yards per game this season and 8.56 yards per carry.
  • It was Gordon’s fourth 200-yard rushing game this season and fifth of his career. Ron Dayne, who had five 200-yard rushing games in both 1996 and 1999, is the only other Badger to run for at least 200 yards in a game four times in one season.
  • Gordon rushed for at least 100 yards for the eighth straight game and the ninth time in 10 games this season. His 19 career 100-yard games ties him with Brent Moss for the fifth-most in UW history.
  • Gordon’s 189 rushing yards in the second quarter broke the Wisconsin record for rushing yards in a quarter of 170 set by Ron Dayne vs. San Jose State on Sept. 13, 1997. Gordon also had 170 yards in the third quarter.
  • Gordon had a 42-yard run in the first quarter, a 62-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, a 44-yard run in the second quarter and a 43-yard run in the third quarter. He now had 14 runs this season of at least 40 yards and 24 in his career. Gordon has four runs this season of at least 60 yards and 11 in his career. Wisconsin leads the country with 20 runs of 40+ yards this season. 
  • Gordon has scored at least two touchdowns in seven of the last eight games and with his four TDs today, now has 25 on the season. That is the second-best single-season total in school history, trailing only Montee Ball (39 in 2011).

That’s some impressive company to keep and some really impressive numbers behind the numbers if you will. Yet, Gordon’s big day may not have been the most important part of Gordon jumping to the front of the pack.

See, the chaos that has been the 2014 college football season may be the biggest help. Once again the college football world was nearly rocked to its core on Saturday, as No. 1 Mississippi State and a host of Top 25 teams went down to defeat.

With the Bulldogs losing, it means quarterback Dak Prescott is likely out of the running for the Heisman Trophy. That means one less person to be competition for the award. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota had a bye week, and that means Gordon’s day comes front and center even more and Mariota a bit further back in the memory of the college football world.

Perhaps the biggest competition on Saturday came from Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper, who had eight catches for 88 yards and one very nice touchdown on his resume.

Gordon was also helped by his defense, which held fellow Heisman hopeful Ameer Abdullah down to just 69 yards on 18 carries. That means virtually no competition from another running back for Heisman Trophy voters.

Those are all good things, but perhaps we should go right to the source and ask Gordon what he thinks about winning the Heisman Trophy?

 More games,” said Gordon. 

His head coach also had an answer to the question.

“No,” said Gary Andersen. “A long way to go and keep on fighting.”

Ultimately, the most important aspect of what happened to Gordon on Saturday was the W for his team. Winning certainly helps in getting to the front of the Heisman Trophy discussion, and the more the Badgers do what they did on Saturday, the easier it will be for Gordon to win the award.

Given all of those facts, it’s hard not to see how the Badgers running back isn’t at the front of the pack and well on his way to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com