Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon ran for 1,609 yards last season, but says the second half of the season was disappointing and vows that won't happen this season.
Gordon (6-foot-1, 206), a junior, has played six games and currently leads the nation in rushing yards per game (174.3); he is second in total rushing yards (1,043) and third with 13 rushing touchdowns. His per-game average puts him on a pace for 2,092 regular-season rushing yards, which would make him the second player in school history to reach the 2,000-yard plateau; Ron Dayne did it twice, and Dayne's 2,109 yards in 1996 is the single-season school record. Wisconsin should go to a bowl, and Gordon's pace would leave him with 2,266 yards in a 13-game season.
Last season, Gordon rushed for 870 yards in the first six games with eight touchdowns. In the final six regular-season games, Gordon rushed for 596 yards (he added 143 in a bowl game). He had five 100-yard games in the first half of the season and three in the second half.
"The second half of the season I kind of just -- I really went down, so my goal is to try to stay as consistent as I can," he told Madison TV station WKOW. "If you go look at the numbers, I wasn't playing as well in the second half of the season, but I'm really looking at changing that. ... I didn't play as well as I wanted to (in the second half of last season)."
The second half of the season begins Saturday against Maryland; that's the first of the two division crossover games for the Badgers, who get Rutgers next week. Then come four consecutive games against West Division foes to close out the season. The last three should decide who wins the West, as the Badgers' final three contests are against Nebraska (home), Iowa (road) and Minnesota (home). The Badgers are hoping to make their third appearance in the Big Ten title game in four seasons; they won the championship in both previous appearances (2011 over Michigan State and '12 over Nebraska).
Gordon currently owns a streak of four consecutive games with at least 175 yards, and he has had two four-TD outings this season. He is a member of College Football 24/7's Midseason All-American team, and NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks says "Gordon effectively runs between the tackles on counters and powers, exhibiting enough strength and power to run through arm tackles in traffic. As a result, NFL scouts are encouraged by his ability to be a feature back at the next level." NFL Media analyst Charles Davis says Gordon is a potential first-round pick -- notable because no running back has been taken in the first round in the past two drafts.