Wisconsin football: Gordon disappears in loss

No. 14 Wisconsin blew a 17-point third quarter lead in a 28-24 loss to the No. 13 LSU Tigers Saturday night in Houston, Texas.

After a solid first half, Wisconsin’s Heisman Trophy candidate running back Melvin Gordon broke off for a 63-yard run on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. At that point, he had 13 carries for 139 yards and a touchdown.

Gordon carried the ball three more times the rest of the game.

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Melvin Gordon put together a solid first half, but received few carries down the stretch.

Head coach Gary Andersen said there was no injury and had no answer as to why Gordon was not used more.

It is certainly an interesting question to wonder, especially with the passing game struggling as much as it did.

In his first start, Tanner McEvoy completed eight of his 24 passes for 50 yards with two interceptions. He and his wide receivers were not on the same page on several occasions. Wisconsin’s wideouts were unable to create separation from the

LSU secondary, who were without one of their top cornerbacks Rashard Robinson due to a suspension.

Despite the poor passing game, Wisconsin dominated the first half on both sides of the ball.

Despite replacing its entire front seven, the Badgers’ defense was impressive in the first half with the only blemish being LSU wide receiver Travin Dural getting behind Sojourn Shelton and Lubern Figaro for an 80-yard touchdown reception.

Linebackers Marcus Trotter and Joe Schobert were all over the field making plays. Trotter totaled 12 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss, while Schobert finished with eight tackles, including two tackles for loss, a sack, and a forced fumble.

Take away that one big play and the Badgers held LSU to 56 yards of offense as they went into the locker room with a 17-7 lead.

Safety Michael Caputo led the defense with 15 tackles and recovered a fumble.

Following Gordon’s 63-yard scamper, sophomore Corey Clement extended the Badgers’ lead to 24-7 with a two-yard touchdown run with 12:24 left in the third quarter.

LSU connected on two field goals to cut the deficit to 24-13.

The Wisconsin defense took a huge hit with Warren Herring exiting the game at the end of the third quarter with a knee injury, and he was not the only injury to a starting defensive end.

Fellow senior Konrad Zagzebski left midway through first quarter and was taken off on a stretcher. He lay motionless on the field after attempting to stop LSU running back Kenny Hilliard. Zagzebski was taken to Methodist Hospital for precautionary reasons.

Neither player returned to the game.

Without its two starting defensive ends, Wisconsin had no answer for the LSU offense in the fourth quarter.

Facing a third-and-20 from the Badgers’ 35 yard line, Anthony Jennings found John Diarse for a 36-yard touchdown with several missed tackles from Wisconsin defenders. The Tigers converted on the two-point conversion, making it a 24-21 game.

After McEvoy interception, Kenny Hilliard had a huge hole and walked into the end zone untouched for a 28-yard score giving LSU its first lead of the game.

Wisconsin was unable to get anything going offensively in its final two drives, which ended with another interception and a punt.

This loss puts Wisconsin in a position where it has to win every game the rest of the season to have a chance at the College Football Playoff in January, and given its Big Ten schedule, it is still a possibility.

There is no more room for error, so Andersen will have to find a way to get his best player the ball as often as possible.

  • Bill Werner

    As a long time Badger fan, seeing ups and downs– I was at the UW – Iowa game when the long losing streak ended 44 years ago–I was truly disappointed to see the Badger “offense” become so “offensive” and utterly predictable in the 2nd half. LSU could not keep up with what the Team did the first half–so why not continue? Put the guy in motion again, make the defense adjust and spread–and if they don’t–then burn them with that end around again. Power running is one thing–but forcing the defense to adapt and play as if they really don’t know what’s coming next…I blame this loss on poor Coaching–not the players…btw–the Team Speed was incredible… uhhh WR’s and QB’s–learn to talk to each other and PRACTICE together a bit more…especially with the quick routes…

    • Erik Buchinger

      Agreed. The second half is tough to explain. I would hope the Badgers can get back on track today against FCS Western Illinois.