IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon nearly went to Iowa.
The Hawkeyes will soon get to see what they missed out on.
Gordon, a sophomore who verbally committed to Iowa before joining the 22nd-ranked Badgers (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten), has emerged as the nation's most productive running back heading into Saturday's game in Iowa City.
Gordon has run for 1,012 yards on 9.5 yards per carry — or roughly double what most coaches would be thrilled to get out of their No. 1 back — and has at least 140 yards six times in seven games.
The Hawkeyes (5-3, 2-2 Big Ten) are now charged with stopping the player they once hoped would help lead them to the Rose Bowl.
They know it won't be easy.
"You talk about all the things you'd want out of a running back. Speed, balance, power, strength, vision. All those things, he's got them," Iowa linebacker James Morris said.
Gordon also has 11 touchdowns rushing for the Badgers, good for a tie for second in the country.
He and fellow star James White will face one of their biggest tests against the Hawkeyes.
Iowa is first in the country with just two TDs rushing allowed and 12th in scoring defense with 18.1 points a game. It's a much-improved unit led by Morris, who has put himself into the discussion of the league's top linebackers by winning his second defensive player of the week award in a month on Monday.
"They're in command of the defense, they do a nice job of directing traffic and you can see that on tape. Their knowledge of the game is very good," Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said.
Here are five keys to consider as Iowa and Wisconsin resume a rivalry that dates back 119 years and is tied at 42-42-2:
BORLAND UPDATE: Wisconsin star linebacker Chris Borland might not play against Iowa after straining a hamstring in a 56-32 win at Illinois on Oct. 19. Borland has racked up 10 or more tackles three times this season and has 13 career forced fumbles, the most of any active player. "Obviously it's not an injury that's foreign to him. He's been through this before," Andersen said. "But I'm very optimistic that he'll play in the game."
SECOND HALF BLUES: The good news for Iowa is that it has led at halftime in each of its eight games. The bad news is that the Hawkeyes lost three of them — and needed an OT touchdown pass from quarterback Jake Rudock to C.J. Fiedorowicz to beat Northwestern last week. "I think it's just a matter of you've got to concentrate your way through things. I know it's a fact we've been leading every game at halftime. It's obviously a fact that we haven't won every game. Somehow, some way you just have to concentrate better," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
ABBRECADABRA: Iowa knows it will need a big game out of top cornerback B.J. Lowery. The Hawkeyes can't afford to drop too many players into coverage given how well Wisconsin runs the ball, and receiver Jared Abbrederis is averaging 107.4 yards receiving per game with five TDs. "He just runs around, makes plays. He is non-stop," Ferentz said. "Watching other people on film, they match up against Wisconsin, you can't help but notice No. 4. Doesn't matter who the opponent is, he has really played well."
HELLO MR. ANDERSEN: The first-year Wisconsin coach will get his first view of this rivalry from the sidelines at Kinnick, where the fans are mere inches away from the visiting players and aren't afraid to let them know they're there. The rivalry, which took a two-year hiatus because of realignment, has been extremely competitive in recent years. The Badgers beat Iowa in 2010 when Montee Ball scored a TD with 1:06 left to give the Badgers a 31-30 win and possession of the Heartland Trophy — which features a bull. "I think it means a lot. And you sit there and you look at that trophy, it's either a trophy case with a trophy in it or it's a trophy case that's empty. And you either hope to hold onto it or you're hoping to get it back," Andersen said.
POWER OUTAGE: One of the many reasons that Gordon's presence at Kinnick Stadium might be painful for the Hawkeyes is that their own run game has slipped in recent weeks. Neither Mark Weisman nor Damon Bullock has rushed for more than 60 yards in the last three games as Iowa has slipped to 47th nationally in rushing yards. That's why bruising freshman Leshun Daniels Jr. might get a crack at significant carries for the first time in Big Ten play.
Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not toxic to humans or pets. Some mild side effects are possible if they are eaten.
A Fort Wayne man had the opportunity to have lunch with Nelson Mandela 20 years ago. He says the experience is something he has carried with him throughout the years.
The suspects face bank robbing charges, as well as charges of assaulting and putting in jeopardy the lives of others.
The yellow brick building that served for decades as the club house for the Elks Lodge 155 golf course in Fort Wayne is being demolished.
Buffalo Wild Wings donated $6,500 to the Boys & Girls Club's Fairfield location on Friday afternoon. The money will be used for youth sports tournaments.
A new event promises 12 days of delicious deals at Fort Wayne restaurants in January.
A woman arrested for shoplifting at a Fort Wayne Walmart identified herself as her husband's ex-wife when she was actually the man's current wife. The ex-wife then ended up getting arrested when the real wife failed to show up for court.
Gov. Mike Pence has ordered flags at Indiana state facilities to be flown at half-staff in tribute of Nelson Mandela and is asking businesses and residents to do so also to honor the world leader.
A big chunk of the U.S. is getting a blast of wintry weather. Some areas are experiencing frigid temperatures. Some are seeing snow and ice. Several deaths have been reported, most resulting from treacherous driving conditions. Hundreds of…
Frigid temperatures and a cold Saint Joseph River didn't stop approximately 100 students from jumping into the river as part of Homecoming Week at IPFW.
The Salvation Army and Toys for Tots are seeing a decline in donations this year because of a late Thanksgiving.
Global civil rights icon Nelson Mandela, whose legacy is ending South African apartheid, has died.
Fort Wayne is not expected to take the brunt of an approaching winter weather system, but everyone will experience frigid temperatures and some could see sleet and snow.
Thieves hit an Indianapolis home this week, stealing a large nativity scene from the front yard.
The Veteran Beer Company, a company employing solely veterans, is bringing its craft beers to Fort Wayne.