September 23, 2014

Wisconsin came out of a bye week and unleashed a record-setting performance.

The Badgers may be poised for another explosive showing with one more apparent mismatch before Big Ten play begins.

Melvin Gordon looks to help No. 19 Wisconsin extend its lengthy non-conference winning streak Saturday in its first meeting with South Florida.

Wisconsin (2-1) ran for a Big Ten-record 644 yards in last Saturday's 68-17 win over Bowling Green, the most in the FBS since Rice recorded 672 rushing yards against Louisiana Tech in 2003. Gordon racked up a career-high 253 yards on the ground and matched a school record with five touchdowns despite only 13 carries.

The preseason All-American, who fumbled for the first time in his career on his first carry, had been held to 38 yards on 17 attempts two weeks earlier against Western Illinois.

"I was motivated. I heard a lot of people doubting me saying 'I can't do this, I can't do that,'" Gordon said. "That definitely motivated me to get out there and do what I needed to do."

Quarterback Tanner McEvoy is also a threat for the nation's top rushing attack, which averages 359.7 yards per game. The junior signal-caller is averaging 84.3 yards himself after running for 158 against Bowling Green, a school record for a quarterback.

McEvoy has shown progress as a passer, posting a 169.0 rating in two games since struggling in the opening loss against LSU when he was 8 of 24 for 50 yards and two interceptions.

Coach Gary Andersen would like to stretch opposing defenses with more deep passes, particularly before the conference opener at Northwestern on Oct. 4. Wisconsin's longest passing play thus far is for 37 yards, which ranks 117th in the country.

"I definitely think there's a higher ceiling," McEvoy said. "We know we can rush the ball like that. We know we can pass the ball like that. We've just got to put it all together and keep working at it."

The Badgers' defense has more than held its own, giving up 266.0 yards per game to rank ninth in the FBS.

Wisconsin will be looking to win its 32nd straight non-conference home game, which trails only LSU's 42 consecutive victories among active streaks.

South Florida (2-2) has lost nine of 10 on the road and will be playing for the first time away from Tampa this season.

USF avoided a third straight loss with a 17-14 victory over Connecticut last Friday, rebounding from a 49-17 loss to North Carolina State. The Bulls totaled 271 yards after managing only 159 against the Wolfpack and freshman tailback Marlon Mack ran 31 times for 103 yards and a touchdown. He ranks 12th nationally with 125.5 yards per game.

USF allowed a season-low 57 rushing yards after surrendering 315 to North Carolina State.

"Last week we stepped in a ditch. I told our guys we needed to stay focused on the plan, block out distractions and get out of that ditch," coach Willie Taggart said. "Our guys were confident all week. ... When things went wrong, they didn't get down on themselves. They stayed upbeat."

The Bulls remain vulnerable on the ground, surrendering seven touchdowns - and their passing game has been non-existent. USF is completing 39.2 percent of its passes and its passer rating of 82.6 is second-to-last in the country.

"We're not satisfied, it's just two wins. We have a way bigger picture than that," cornerback Chris Dunkley told the school's official website. "Don't get me wrong, we're very happy we've won two games. It's a stepping stone to where we're trying to get."

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