In recent weeks, we’ve heard a lot about how the Georgia offense might just have the best running backs in the country. Todd Gurley has been phenomenal through three games and the two freshmen behind him, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel have been almost as enlightening.
Take another look, though, because Wisconsin just made its case for the illustrious title.
The Badgers ran roughshod over little ole Bowling Green, setting a Big Ten record with 644 yards on the ground in a 68-17 blitzing.
Wisconsin was led by Melvin Gordon. Its own Heisman hopeful running back , who rushed 13 times for 253 yards and five touchdowns, only a few weeks after making a Houdini-type of disappearing act in a loss against the LSU Tigers.
As the season progresses, one theme is being proven with each passing game.
The No. 13 Bulldogs and No. 19 Badgers are the cream of the crop for college’s top backs.
Early on, it looked like Bowling Green was going to make a game of it. The Falcons went head-to-head in the first quarter, matching the Badgers early and bringing the score to a manageable 14-10 deficit going into the second.
Then Gordon broke loose. The senior back had touchdown runs of 50 yards, 3 yards and 21 yards to finish the half. For good measure, he added a 69-yard barn-burner seconds after leaving the locker room when play resumed, putting Wisconsin up for good with a 48-10 score.
His backfield mates weren’t shabby either. Tanner McEvoy, the quarterback, did complete 9-of-16 passes for 112 yards. But his 11 carries actually passed his completions number as he toted the ball for 158 yards and a touchdown.
Corey Clement added 111 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. The Badgers almost had four 100-yard rushers when Dare Ogunbowale ran 14 times for 94 yards.
Let me repeat that: the Badgers almost had four 100-yard rushers. That is depth. Or maybe that’s just really bad defense.
The record-setting day from Wisconsin shouldn’t take away from Georgia’s equally impressive game on the ground.
Gurley was given only six carries and only played on the first few possessions before being taken out, because by that point, the game was already over. With 73 yards on those plays, he probably would have come close to Gordon’s numbers if given a similar workload.
Behind him was the aforementioned Michel – a speedster freshman who carried 10 times for a whopping 155 yards and three touchdowns. Isaiah McKenzie, a converted wide receiver, ran for 54 yards and Brendan Douglas, an unheralded sophomore, carried the ball eight times for 47 yards.
Surprisingly enough, Chubb was the only one to not have a field day in the 66-0 pounding of the Troy Trojans. The powerful freshman has played well this year, but only totaled four carries for 10 yards in this contest.
One could argue that Georgia, which has already faced two top-25 teams, deserves credit for finding its rushing success against better competition than Wisconsin. But the Badgers have been equally impressive from a purely statistical point of view.
No matter who you believe has the best running backs in the country, there’s no denying one simple fact: both teams are extraordinarily fun to watch.
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