ABOUT LAST WEEK
Melvin Gordon is the most gratifying player I have ever encountered, and perhaps ever will. This isn't a Wisconsin thing. This is about a player who has the capability and the gall to do what we always hope players will do: Just go, man. Attack, and go. Don't stop, no no. Run forever, forever faster, keep going, faster, forever.
Don't leave us, ever. Not us but us, the downtrodden who have given up on anything being exactly as they wanted it, who feel as if there is nothing left to indulge in. There is Melvin Gordon. So please just do us a solid and remain that perfect thing.
(Of course this is selfish. Please leave, Melvin Gordon, and become the best pro running back the world has ever known).
WHERE WE'RE GOING
South Florida (2-2, 1-0 AMERICAN), Sept. 27
Last week: Beat UConn, 17-14
What happened: Bob Diaco is still trying to scrub the Pasqualoni stank out of UConn. It won't happen this season. The scoreboard shows that the game was a squeaker, but South Florida was actually the vastly better team in this game. Of note: the Bulls more than doubled the Huskies' total yardage! Also of note: they still gained a relatively paltry 271 yards.
Winning is good, however. And South Florida can at least hang it's hat on a bright young running back -- Marlon Mack picked up 103 yards on 31 carries, and scored his fifth rushing touchdown for a team that managed four total last season.
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Why you should be afraid: The Mack attack, and maybe a Quinton Flowers appearance that will throw Wisconsin for a loop.
Why you shouldn't be afraid: Their best performance was sneaking by UConn. UCONN.
Hubris: South Florida players shake Gordon's hand mid-play to tell him what a good sport he is, before sending him on his way to the end zone.
@ Northwestern (1-2, 0-0 B1G), Oct. 4
Last week: Beat Western Illinois, 24-7
What happened: The Wildcats became the last team in the conference to secure a win by thrashing the mighty Leathernecks. And by thrashing, I mean, "won the game, technically."
Northwestern was outgained 376-283 on offense. Tanner McEvoy -- Tanner McEvoy! -- passed for 289 yards against Western Illinois, and yet Trevor Siemian could only manage 117 yards on 25 passing attempts.
Why you should be afraid: The ground game did some nice things. Not 644 yards-nice (hruph-hruph-hruph), but Treyvon Green, Justin Jackson and Solomon Vault are a nice set of complementary backs with really neat names. Depth at running back is a nice thing to have against a shallow front seven.
Why you shouldn't be afraid: Siemian is going backwards.
Hubris: Jackson and Vault get Gordon's autograph in the post game. Pat Fitzgerald, too.
Illinois (3-1, 0-0 B1G), Oct. 11
Last week: Beat Texas State, 42-35
What happened: Went back to playing bad non-Power 5 teams. Profited.
Why you should be afraid: Wes Lunt has played well, even in an ugly loss to Washington. The Oklahoma State transfer is completing 61 percent of his passes at 8.1 yards per attempted, and has thrown 11 touchdowns to just three interceptions. That makes him perhaps the best quarterback the Badgers will face the rest of this season, which will mean giving up an aggravating big play or two.
Why you shouldn't be afraid: The Illini aren't much for run defense. Or any defense, really.
Hubris: Gordon runs for more than 300 yards and Illinois gets all snippy about it.
Maryland (3-1, 0-0 B1G), Oct. 25
Last week: Beat Syracuse, 34-20
What happened: Maryland is a hard team to read, racking up inconsistent performances against teams that are, in turn, inconsistent. A close loss to West Virginia still appears to be its best result, and that should remain a quality game as the season progresses.
Beating Syracuse, however, doesn't amount to much. Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown was held in check on the ground, but was better through the air, passing for 280 yards and two touchdowns. What's scary for the Terps is that they were outgained by a wide margin -- 589 to 369 yards, with 370 of Syracuse's yards coming from the running game. Syracuse's quarterback, Terrel Hunt, led the way with 156 yards rushing on 23 carries.
Why you should be afraid: The Terps may be the next team Wisconsin plays with a pulse.
Why you shouldn't be afraid: They just gave up a ton of yards rushing and the opposing quarterback only had to make 14 completions. YEAHHHHHHHH.
Hubris: Wisconsin wins comfortably. Gordon bombs atomically.
@ Rutgers (3-1, 0-1 B1G), Nov. 1
Last week: BEAT NAVY, 31-24
What happened: Beating Navy by any margin should be applauded. You're not smarter and you're not stronger for the effort. All you know is that you survived.
Why you should be afraid: Rutgers is making a habit of playing ugly football. That isn't to say they're better for it, or that they're going to keep winning, but if they're down they're make sure to drag you with them. I don't anticipate this game being any fun.
Why you shouldn't: Sadly, Rutgers just lost running back Paul James for the season to a torn ACL. He was leading the Scarlet Knights in rushing, and averaging 1.3 yards per carry better than their next leading rusher. Losing him will be a big blow.
Hubris: Gordon held to just eight yards a carry in a slug fest.
@ Purdue (2-2, 0-0 B1G), Nov. 8
Last week: Beat Southern Illinois, 35-13
What happened: Purdue went up 25-0 in the second quarter, then sailed to an easy win. Sorta. The Boilermakers scored on two short fields to start the game thanks to turnovers, then went quiet. Their longest drive of the day had been 56 yards before they embarked on a scoreless 86-yard drive that ate 7:50 off the clock in the fourth quarter. On the day, Purdue outgained Southern Illinois by a modest 51 yards, 381 to 330.
Why you should be afraid: Purdue has a bunch of good ball carriers. It also has that game where it foiled Notre Dame on the ground.
Why you shouldn't be afraid: The Boilermakers also have that game where they were gouged by Central Michigan. Let's just say Notre Dame was drunk.
Nebraska (4-0, 0-0 B1G), Nov. 15
Last week: Beat Miami, 41-31
What happened: Bo Pelini finally lost his shit, but Nebraska emerged victorious in a game many pegged as a trap. Ameer Abdullah was superb, but most impressive was the defense. The Hurricanes were held to just 76 yards on the ground (25 yards lost due to sacks), signaling a return to form for the Huskers.
Why you should be afraid: Nebraska is turning into a well-rounded football team and looks perhaps as good as it ever has as a Big Ten member.
Why you shouldn't be afraid: I like to think Wisconsin has Nebraska's number, but in all honesty this is shaping up to be a tight, potentially fantastic game. But Nebraska has to get to four losses somehow.
Hubris: Gordon goes full mutant, as he is wont to do against the Huskers.
@ Iowa (3-1, 0-0 B1G), Nov. 22
Last week: Beat Pitt, 24-20
What happened: Iowa won the dang football game, which means a lot after the sadness of last week. The defense clamped down on Pitt running back James Conner in the second half after getting gashed in the first, and Casey Beathard played well in place of an injured Jake Rudock.
Kirk Ferentz didn't make fans want to curse his name to the cornfields, so that's something.
Why you should be afraid: There's an alright football team underneath all the malaise.
Why you shouldn't be afraid: The malaise.
Hubris: Gordon ran. Ferentz clapped.
Minnesota (2-1, 0-0 B1G), Nov. 29
Last week: Beat San Jose State, 24-7
What happened: Good on you, Minnesota, for picking yourself up off the mat, and with your backup quarterback going 1-for-7, no less!
Why you should be afraid: David Cobb and Maxx Williams!
Why you shouldn't be afraid: One of those requires someone who can throw the ball to be good!
Hubris: Gordon runs for many, many yards.