ORLANDO, Fla. — The result wasn’t what Melvin Gordon had in mind, but he left the Capital One Bowl with some history.
Gordon and James White combined for 250 yards rushing Wednesday in a 34-24 loss to South Carolina, becoming the Football Bowl Subdivision’s single-season all-time leading rushing duo. Gordon, who had 143 yards on 25 carries at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, closed with 1,609 yards rushing for the season. White had 1,444 yards this season.
The combined total of 3,053 yards tops the former FBS record of 3,004 set by Nevada’s Cody Fajardo and Stefphon Jefferson in 2012. In addition, Gordon and White are the first teammates in FBS history to run for at least 1,400 yards each in the same season.
"He kind of took me under his wing as soon as I got here," Gordon said, referring to White, a senior. "It kind of hurts not to have him go out on top. . . . It meant a lot to me, this game. I was so focused. I was preparing so hard."
Wisconsin entered the game with the nation’s eighth-best rushing attack, averaging 283 yards per game. The reputation held true to form: The Badgers outgained the Gamecocks 293 yards to 117 on the ground.
"I’m glad the team that rushed the most yards didn’t win today," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "I didn’t realize they had quite that many, but I knew they had a lot of big runs."
STAVE UNSURE OF INJURY’S CAUSE: Quarterback Joel Stave left late in the third quarter with a right shoulder injury after a handoff to Gordon. He’s unsure what caused his absence.
Stave, after Gordon took the ball, faked a handoff to fullback Derek Watt and grabbed his shoulder with his left hand. He never received contact on the play. Stave was hit hard by South Carolina’s Victor Hampton in that area while on a run, but that was five plays earlier and Stave did throw a pass during that span.
Curt Phillips, who was 0-for-2 passing in two games before Wednesday, played the rest of the afternoon.
Phillips completed 7 of 12 passes for 37 yards with two interceptions. Stave went 9 of 13 for 80 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
"I’m not sure what it was," Stave said. "It was my throwing shoulder. If I would have tried to stay in, I would have just hurt us, and that’s not good. I don’t think it’s the collarbone."
Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen didn’t offer much more on Stave’s condition.
"No update on Joel," he said. "I haven’t seen him. Our offense didn’t change. . . . Curt has been in that atmosphere before in big-time games. I’m sure he wanted to play better."
NEAR-MISS FOR ABBREDERIS: Jared Abbrederis was one catch away from a program record.
Abbrederis had five catches for 30 yards, one reception short of breaking former wide receiver Brandon Williams’ mark of 202 career catches set from 2002-05. Including Wednesday, Abbrederis was held to five or fewer catches just four times this season.
"At the beginning of the year, you set goals for yourself and try to achieve them," said Abbrederis, who now shares the mark with Williams. "But when it comes down to it, it’s all about winning. Today, I knew I was six out (from the record) or something like that. But I didn’t really care about catching things like that. It’s just all about trying to get that victory."
DOE’S BIG RETURN: Kenzel Doe achieved a rare feat with his 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
The last Wisconsin player to return a kickoff for a score was David Gilreath, who ran back the opening kick 97 yards during a victory over Ohio State on Oct. 16, 2010.
Doe is the first Wisconsin player to return a kickoff for a touchdown in a bowl game. The Badgers’ previous longest return in a bowl game was a 60-yarder by Gilreath against Tennessee in the 2008 Outback Bowl and Abbrederis in the 2012 Rose Bowl.
LONG DRIVE: Wisconsin’s 16-play, 75-yard scoring drive in the second quarter tied for the longest in the program’s bowl history. The march ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Stave to Jeff Duckworth.
The Badgers had another 16-play drive in a victory over Utah in the 1996 Copper Bowl.