What a game.
After falling behind 17-3 in the second quarter, the No. 22 Wisconsin Badgers scored 56 unanswered points and overwhelmed the No. 11 Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday. Junior running back, Heisman hopeful and now FBS record-holder Melvin Gordon ran for 408 yards on 25 carries and four touchdowns -- in a game all Wisconsin fans should remember.
To discuss the biggest win in the Gary Andersen era, we welcoming the following B5Q writers:
The Good: What went well against Nebraska (you can include Gordon but must give one more good reason)?
Luke: The Badgers will to win. Wisconsin was down 17-3 and then went on a 56-0 run before Nebraska scored a garbage touchdown. I won't lie, I thought the game was going to go downhill after Nebraska went up 17-3, but the Badgers proved me wrong. It is something that we haven't seen from a Gary Andersen-coached team either, which had been a major gripe amongst Badger fans. In my opinion, it is the best win of the Andersen era.
Zach: Aside from the running game, I would say the best part about Wisconsin's convincing win on Saturday was their ability to sustain long drives on offense while also being able to keep Nebraska's offense off the field. The Cornhuskers didn't have a single drive over 50 yards all game, the Badgers had eight drives of 50+ yards--all ending with points (7 of the 8 resulting in touchdowns). In the second half of the season, the defense has been able to force turnovers and quick three-and-outs on a consistent basis; on the other side of the ball the Badgers' offense is beginning to look more and more electric as the season progresses, with big runs from Gordon/Clement/McEvoy becoming increasingly more frequent.
Andrew: Resilience. The Badgers were punched in the mouth and dropping balls left and right in the first quarter. They gave Nebraska two short fields and Ameer Abdullah had 42 yards when Nebraska was up 17-3. At that point Melvin Gordon had 49 yards and gave Nebraska the ball back. They could have just as easily been on the brink of disaster, especially after Gordon fumbled a second time. But the defense got going when they didn't have Nebraska already past the Wisconsin 50.
And we can safely assume that you know how well Melvin Gordon did by this point.
The Bad: What still needs work, or didn't go the Badgers way?
Luke: I would say the passing, but why throw the ball when you can run it for 600 yards against one of the better defenses in the country?! I think the Badgers need to learn how to start quickly. Again, we saw a slow start by the Badgers, and they got down 17-3. They won't be able to storm back against every team, which is what happened against Northwestern. The Badgers need to jump out to an early lead eventually, like they did against LSU.
Zach: The three turnovers in the Badgers' first six drives could be a cause for concern moving forward. For a team that depends so much on their running game, ball security is extremely crucial. The Badgers cannot keep digging these kind of holes for themselves because, like Luke said, they won't always be able to bounce back from 14 point deficits, especially not with this current passing attack that has underwhelmed us all season long.
Andrew: Throwing the passing game on here does warrant mentioning, but at this point the passing game feels like a loss leader. We have a special talent at running back and unless disaster strikes or we play Northwestern again, we should be okay there. What worries me is the details. The Badgers punting unit is, and I am putting this absolutely kindly right now, hot garbage. Bad coverage has been an issue, and quite frankly, Drew Meyer's been bad. Also, the Badgers haven't been great at taking care of the ball. It's cost them before. And if the Badgers are expecting something beyond ‘hey neat, they got to the title game?' they need to protect the ball with much better skills.
B5Q Game Balls: Who deserves them?
Luke: Melvin. End of Story. An NCAA record 408 yards in THREE QUARTERS deserves one. I don't think I need to explain any further.
Zach: I won't even try to justify anyone else, Melvin gets my game ball with 5 additional shout outs dedicated to the offensive line, who paved the way up front for Gordon. What we saw from No. 25 on Saturday was nothing short of incredible, I think B5Q's Sam Brief summed it up perfectly in a tweet midway through the third quarter by saying the following:
If Melvin Gordon isn't the Heisman frontrunner after tonight, I'm not sure what else he can do. #Badgers— Sam Brief (@sambrief) November 15, 2014
Andrew: Melvin Gordon. Okay, that one's obvious, but we've had big days from Derek ‘Cool Plays' Landisch and Vince Biegel. But the other half of the Chevy Bad Boys had themselves big days Saturday. Joe Schobert went out and grabbed 11 tackles, 2.5 for loss, and had a half a sack and a fumble recovery. Marcus Trotter had 12 tackles, 1 for loss, and also added a sack and a fumble recovery. They were active and nasty.
Who's Next: Iowa in Iowa City
Luke: This is an interesting game. Iowa would love nothing more than to come upset Wisconsin's hope of clinching the west division. They can play their way back into the hunt with a win. In the end, I think the Badgers win 34-21. Melvin will again have a big day.
Zach: Before the season started, I picked this game to be one of the two losses the Badgers would have this season (the other being LSU). I still believe that this could be a potential trap game for the Badgers due to the way they manhandled Nebraska this past week and the fact that it's away and you just never know what to expect on the road during this time of year. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if this next week Iowa's defense completely sells out on stopping run after seeing what Gordon did against Nebraska. If that's the case, all I have to say to the Hawkeyes is best of luck with that.
In the end, I think Wisconsin's defense, along with Gordon and the rest of the rushing attack, will be too much for the Hawkeyes. Right now, I have the Badgers winning 27-13 in a relatively low scoring game.
Andrew: It's a tailor made trap game. A mercurial opponent with a chance at winning the division and embarrassing a rival while they look ahead to a rivalry game with a trophy that actually matters. But I don't think the Badgers have reason to despair. Iowa gave up plenty of yardage to Tevin Coleman and Minnesota was able to have success on the ground.
And let's be honest, Melvin Gordon is the best running back in college football. And if Nebraska can't stop him, Iowa won't either. Not with Corey Clement and Tanner McEvoy able to shoulder some of the burden. Wisconsin wins. There will be some agita. We've been through this before.