Badger Bits: Backfield duo steamrolls Boilermakers


Sept. 21, 2013

BY RYAN EVANS
UW Athletic Communications

MADISON, Wis -- You'd be hard-pressed to find a backfield in college football more lethal than Wisconsin's is right now.

For the third time in four games this season, both members of the Badgers' two-headed running attack, James White and Melvin Gordon, went over the century mark in rushing to lead No. 24 Wisconsin to a 41-10 win over Purdue in the kickoff to its 2013 Big Ten campaign.

"They're so dynamic, they have the ability to make people miss," UW head coach Gary Andersen said of the UW backs. "They really kind of complement each other with their running styles, in my opinion. They're special kids."

Gordon again showed the game-breaking ability that has made him one of the breakout stars of this college football season in rushing for a game-high 147 yards, and a career-high three touchdowns. But White wasn't about to be outdone, rushing for 145 yards and a career-long 70-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

White said that it's the backs' work ethic during the week that has made them so successful through the first four games of the season. 

"We work hard during practice," he said. "We try to be complete backs whether that's making guys miss, putting our shoulders down or picking up blitzes. We go out there and work hard during practice, and it shows up on Saturdays."

White going over 100 yards is a good omen for the Badgers' running game. The senior has 12 career 100-yard games, and in each of those, Wisconsin has had multiple 100-yard rushers. UW is also 12-0 when White runs for 100 yards or more.

"We just want to come out every game and compete, get after it and just try to help our team win," said Gordon, who now leads the nation in rushing with 624 yards on the year.

This isn't the first time that the Badgers have been able to run wild over the Boilermakers. Wisconsin's 388 rushing yards marks the third time in as many years that UW has rushed for more than 350 yards against Purdue. The Badgers have also had two backs each top 100 yards in back-to-back meetings with Purdue. 

Domination on defense
Wisconsin's defense continued its strong start to the 2013 campaign, holding the Boilermakers to just 180 yards of total offense, including just 50 yards gained after Purdue's field goal midway through the second quarter.

The 180 yards surrendered is the fewest for the Badgers in a Big Ten game since limiting Minnesota to 156 total yards on Nov. 12, 2011. Wisconsin also held the Boilermakers to just 2-of-14 on third down, and six of Purdue's 13 drives went three-and-out.

"I thought we played really well," senior NG Beau Allen said. "We played really hard and it was a good outcome, especially that they didn't have too many yards rushing, because that's something that we strive for. 

The Badgers' front seven made life difficult for Purdue QB Rob Henry all afternoon, hurrying him seven times and registering four sacks, which was three more than UW had recorded all season coming into the game. Wisconsin's eight tackles for loss was also a season high.

"We were stout against the run and that got us into positions to be able to rush the passer by what down and distance is out there," Andersen said.

Badgers have Boilers' number
Saturday's win marked the Badgers' eighth-straight victory over the Boilermakers, the longest streak by either team in the 121-year history of the series.

Wisconsin has scored at least 24 points in each of its last five wins over Purdue and has won by an average margin of just under 20 points per game over that span. UW has also averaged 331.6 rushing yards in those five games (1,658 total). 

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