With the regular season under wraps, the Big Ten Network announced the conference's 2014 All-Big Ten football team on Monday night. A handful of Wisconsin Badgers made the cut, led by running back Melvin Gordon.
As expected, Gordon won the Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year award after rushing for 2,260 yards and 26 touchdowns in regular-season play. His yardage total ranks fourth in college football history and makes him the favorite for the conference's Offensive Player of the Year award, which will be announced Tuesday, and a competitor for the Heisman Trophy, which is awarded during the second weekend of December.
Gordon had to beat out a class of running backs that's as good as the Big Ten has seen in a long, long time. Indiana's Tevin Coleman joined Gordon on the first team after running for 2,036 yards, which ranks in the top 20 all-time. Minnesota's David Cobb, Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah and Michigan State's Jeremy Langford also posted years that would usually be worthy of consideration for the league's best back. Langford was the odd man out of the conference's second team.
Wisconsin's case for the College Football Playoff
With a shot at the Big Ten championship ahead, the Badgers aren't getting as much national love as they deserve.
Of course, Wisconsin's offensive line deserves a fair share of credit for Gordon's historic season. Rob Havenstein and Kyle Costigan earned first-team honors from both the coaches and the media. The duo formed a dominant right side of the line that led Gordon to over 120 rushing yards in 11 of 12 games and a brief stay atop college football's single-game rushing leaders after his 408-yard performance in three quarters against Nebraska. Dan Voltz earned second-team honors from the media.
Senior linebacker Derek Landisch earned first-team conference honors from the coaches, but not the media. Landisch helped anchor a defense that finished fourth in points allowed and second in yards allowed. He led the team with eight sacks, which tied for third in the conference, and was a constant force against the run with 70 tackles (third on the team) and 14.5 tackles for loss (second on the team.)
Landisch was joined on the media's second team by fellow linebacker Vince Biegel and safety Michael Caputo. Biegel led the team with 15.5 tackles for loss and finished just behind Landisch in sacks with 7.5. Caputo paced the team with 93 tackles and forced a pair of fumbles while recovering four.
Caputo, along with cornerback Darius Hillary, also made the coaches' second team. Hillary entered the year in the shadow of sophomore teammate Sojourn Shelton, but proved to be arguably the team's best cover corner throughout the year. Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes, a native of Kenosha, Wis., earned first-team honors by both the media and coaches.
Biegel, Rafael Gaglianone, Dallas Lewallen, Tyler Marz, Joe Schobert, Marcus Trotter and Voltz were given honorable mentions by the coaches. Sam Arneson, Gaglianone, Hillary, Lewallen, Marz, Schobert and Marcus Trotter were given honorable mentions from the media.