Before 1970, Syracuse produced perhaps the greatest run of running backs in college football history, from Heisman winner Ernie Davis, to Floyd Little, to the immortal Jim Brown. Next in line, USC upped the ante with studs like O.J., Charles White, and Marcus Allen. However, in the last 20 years, no one has toted the rock better than the backs from Madison, Wisconsin. Yes, check the numbers. No school in college football has dominated a position more than the Wisconsin tailbacks.
Nineteen Badger backs have topped the 1,000-yard mark during that time. In 1999, the most celebrated of the group, Ron Dayne, won the Heisman Trophy after finishing his career as the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher.
Fast forward to week 5 of the 2013 college football season. The marque game of the weekend features #4 ranked Ohio State hosting #23 Wisconsin at The Horseshoe. While most are waiting on the return of Buckeyes star QB Braxton Miller, it is on the other side of the field where greatness is also looming in the form of running back Melvin Gordon. The sophomore is quietly putting together a phenomenal campaign that is shaping up into quite the resume.
Through four games in 2013, Gordon is leading the nation in rushing at 156 yards per game. It doesn’t sound like a big deal until your realize that he is doing so while carrying the ball just 13 times per game. That equals an impressive 12 yards per carry.
Think it's a fluke? Check last season's numbers and you will find that Gordon averaged 10 yards per carry then too, highlighted by a 216 yard performance against Nebraska in the Big Ten title game. Oh, and did I mention, it was on only nine carries.
Although the shadow is huge with Ron Dayne hovering over all backs who dare to be great in Camp Randall, at the end of the day Melvin Gordon may be the one everyone looks up too.