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Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon, James White stymied in loss

Morry Gash/Associated Press
Running back James White and Wisconsin's normally strong running game struggled Saturday vs. Penn State.

Wisconsin has been dominant on the ground this season in every game but two. The Badgers lost both of those, the latest setback coming in a shocker Saturday at home against Penn State.

Wisconsin rushed for just 120 yards, and the 31-24 loss knocked them out of contention for a potential BCS at-large BCS berth. Penn State had been allowing 146.2 rushing yards per game, but sold out to stop the run Saturday and it paid off.

Wisconsin had 59 plays from scrimmage -- 30 rushes and 29 passes. It was the third time this season the Badgers didn't have at least 44 rushing attempts, and they lost all three games. They ran it 32 times in a loss to Arizona State (but still gained 231 yards) and 27 times against Ohio State (for just 104 yards).

Third-year sophomore Melvin Gordon led the Badgers with 91 yards, the fourth time in five games he was held under 100. Senior James White managed just 56 yards; he had been averaging 152.2 yards per game over the past four contests.

The Badgers were held without a rushing touchdown, the first time that happened since an Oct. 27, 2012, loss to Michigan State -- a span of 17 games.

Badgers quarterback Joel Stave threw three touchdown passes, but he also tossed three interceptions.

Wisconsin (9-3) seems likely to head to a New Year's Day bowl in Florida, either the Capital One or the Outback. Penn State (7-5) is ineligible for the postseason because of NCAA sanctions emanating from the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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