Wisconsin tailback Melvin Gordon, a junior who already has said he is going pro, left college with a flourish Thursday in the Outback Bowl.
Gordon rushed for 251 yards and three touchdowns on a career-high 34 carries as the Badgers downed Auburn 34-31 in overtime.
Gordon moved into second place on the FBS single-season rushing list, finishing with 2,587 yards. That is 41 yards shy of Barry Sanders' single-season mark of 2,628 in 1988. Gordon was fourth heading into the day and passed USC's Marcus Allen (2,342 in 1981) and UCF's Kevin Smith (2,567 in 2007). Gordon averaged 7.54 yards per carry; Sanders was at 7.64. The two highest averages for a 2,000-yard rusher are 7.81 by Nebraska's Mike Rozier in 1983 and 7.70 by Penn State's Larry Johnson in 2002.
Gordon also finished with 29 rushing TDs, one shy of becoming just the fifth player in history with 30 rushing TDs in a season.
His second TD was a 53-yarder late in the third quarter; it was his 10th run of at least 50 yards this season, a figure that leads the nation.
Thursday's performance was his sixth 200-yard outing of the season and the 12th time he exceeded 100 yards. It also was the 10th time this season that he rushed for at least two touchdowns.
Gordon did it Thursday running wide and running right up the gut, and he played a big role in Wisconsin rolling up 400 rushing yards. He and Georgia's Todd Gurley are considered the top two running backs available in the 2015 draft, and both seem likely to go in the first round. There has been no running back selected in the first round in either of the past two drafts.
Wisconsin overcame three interceptions from Joel Stave, his third game this season with three interceptions. He threw just one pick in the other seven games in which he played.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.