Badgers’ Gordon named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year

Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon leads the country in rushing. His total of 2,260 rushing yards is a Big Ten record and fourth-best in FBS history.

Reese Strickland/Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

MADISON, Wis. — One day after earning consensus first-team All-Big Ten honors and being named the league’s running back of the year, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon was announced as the 2014 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.

It marks the third time in the last six years that a Badgers tailback has earned conference offensive player of the year honors. The previous two were John Clay (2009) and Montee Ball (2011). Gordon becomes the 10th Wisconsin player to earn Big Ten Player of the Year honors, joining Troy Vincent (1991), Brent Moss (1993), Tom Burke (1998), Ron Dayne (1999), Jamar Fletcher (2000), Erasmus James (2004), Clay, Ball and Chris Borland (2013).

A leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy, Gordon leads the country in rushing. His total of 2,260 rushing yards is a Big Ten record and fourth-best in FBS history. He trails only Barry Sanders of Oklahoma State (2,628 in 1998), Kevin Smith of UCF (2,567 in 2007) and Marcus Allen of USC (2,342 in 1981). Gordon’s average of 8.00 yards per carry is on pace to break the NCAA single-season record.

Gordon leads the country with 29 touchdowns this season, the second-best total in Big Ten history. With one more score, he would become just the third player in FBS history with at least 2,000 rushing yards and 30 TDs, joining Sanders and Smith.

Gordon’s 188.3 rushing yards per game would be the eighth-best in NCAA history and the best for a player since LaDainian Tomlinson averaged 196.2 yards per game in 2000.

During the Big Ten season, Gordon ran for a conference-record 1,648 yards. His average of 206.0 rushing yards per game bettered Damian Anderson’s former league record of 193.6 set in 2000 by the Northwestern back.

Gordon rushed for at least 120 yards in all eight of Wisconsin’s Big Ten games this season, including four 200-yard efforts. That includes a 408-yard performance against No. 11 Nebraska that broke the FBS single-game rushing mark.

As the Badgers entered the final stretch of the regular season knowing they needed to win out to earn a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, Gordon was at his best. He rushed for 1,092 yards in November, more than all but 17 of the other 124 FBS teams. The junior also got stronger as the game went on, averaging an astounding 9.31 yards per carry in the second half.

In Pictures: Melvin Gordon

Gordon’s big play ability has been on display this season as he leads the country in runs of 10-plus yards (52), 20-plus (31), 30-plus (20), 40-plus (16) and 50-plus (9). There are only two teams in the FBS with more 40-yard runs than Gordon (Indiana and New Mexico both have 17).

Gordon and the 11th-ranked Badgers take on No. 6 Ohio State on Saturday in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis. The game will kick off at 7:17 p.m. CT and be televised by FOX.