Gordon: Mentally, physically stronger for Badgers
MADISON, Wis. (AP) Melvin Gordon weighed going pro before returning to Wisconsin for his junior season a quicker, faster and stronger running back.
Perhaps just as important for Gordon's high NFL hopes is the ability he has shown this year to bounce back from adversity and shine in an ever-brighter spotlight.
While Gordon ran for a major college-record 408 yards on Saturday against Nebraska, he was still trying to forget two fumbles early in the game.
''After the second fumble, I was just kind of out of it,'' Gordon said. ''It was kind of depressing. ... No running back likes to fumble. It's probably one of the worst things you can do.''
It turned into just a footnote in the record book.
After his second fumble, Gordon responded with runs of 39 and 44 yards over Wisconsin's next two series in the second quarter. Gordon, who had a 62-yard touchdown earlier in the period, finished the 15-minute frame with 189 yards rushing to set the school record for rushing in a quarter.
The 59-24 win over the Cornhuskers gave the Badgers (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten, CFP No. 20) an eight-spot boost to No. 14 in the AP Top 25 poll released Sunday.
Quarterback Tanner McEvoy said he thinks Gordon is his own biggest critic.
''It looked like he was a little upset about it, obviously, with the fumbles, but he came back and he obviously did what he did,'' McEvoy said.
''He was playing with a chip on his shoulder, I think.''
In the process, Gordon provided a huge boost to his Heisman Trophy chances. Plagued by early mistakes that helped put his team in an early 17-3 hole, Gordon delivered in a big game on national television.
''Unbelievable game ... this football team was hit right in the face with some major adversity at the beginning of the game, and they just kept battling,'' coach Gary Andersen said.
Gordon has handled the attention in stride ever since declaring last winter that he would bypass the NFL draft as a third-year sophomore to return to Madison.
At Miami, running back Duke Johnson said his mind would already have been made up for the Heisman if he was an eligible voter - even if he's a Heisman hopeful himself.
''I'm officially tweeting Melvin Gordon for Heisman,'' Johnson said Saturday night after the Hurricanes' 30-26 loss to Florida State.
The win over Nebraska was a huge boost for the Badgers' collective psyche. A surging defense that had improved over the last four weeks against questionable offenses shut down a Nebraska team that features its own Heisman Trophy hopeful in running back Ameer Abdullah.
Lost in the buzz over Gordon's day were the 12 tackles and sack by run-stuffing inside linebacker Marcus Trotter. Outside linebackers Joe Schobert and Vince Biegel seemed to be in the backfield all game.
But even the defenders were caught up in the great night for Gordon. Instead of studying up for the next series in between possessions, some of the Badgers defenders monitored the run for the record.
''That was the best game I've ever been a part of, with the snow falling down there in the second half,'' Biegel said.
AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.
Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP