By Scooby Axson
December 02, 2014
Tom Lynn for Sports Illustrated

With 4.4 speed, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon not only has been running away from Big Ten defenses this season, but also running for a record that has stood for over two decades.

Gordon, who is on the regional cover of this week's Sports Illustrated, is well within reach of Barry Sanders' FBS record for rushing yards in a single season with two games remaining, starting with Saturday’s against Ohio State for the Big Ten Championship.

In 12 games this season, Gordon leads the nation in rushing and scoring, with 2,260 rushing yards (on eight yards a carry) and 29 total scores.

Sanders ran for 2,628 yards and had 39 total touchdowns in 11 regular season games during his 1988 Heisman Trophy-winning campaign at Oklahoma State, and ran for 222 on the ground in a bowl game victory against Wyoming that the NCAA doesn’t recognize.

Gordon held the single game rushing record of 408 yards in a sublime performance against Nebraska for one week before it was broken by Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine, who ran for 427 yards against Kansas.

Gordon’s journey to stardom was slow, as he got limited playing time in his freshman and sophomore seasons, sitting behind Montee Ball and James White, and admitting that he was frustrated by the lack of playing time. Both Ball and White moved on, allowing Gordon to seize his opportunity, and he did just that by rushing for 1,609 yards in 2013.

“Every running back that has started here had a great career and helped lead the team to success. They took the team to greater heights. I want to keep the bar high. That’s just how it is,” Gordon said.

For more on Gordon, read Brian Hamilton's story in this week's Sports Illustrated (subscribe here).

Also in this issue: features on the New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, the vertically-challenged players of the NFL and MLB, and former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon.

Subscribers and newsstands in Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska, Eastern Missouri will receive this issue.

Not in the area to buy the regional issue? Buy single issues here.

2014 Sports Illustrated Covers

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