Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon could be on his way to a special season

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In the last 20 years, few positions in college football have been more dominant than the Wisconsin tailback.

Nineteen Badger backs have topped the 1,000-yard mark during that time. In 1999, the most celebrated of the bunch, Ron Dayne, won the Heisman Trophy after finishing his career as the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher.

A grand legacy, to be sure, but it’s possible that Melvin Gordon is the best out of all of them.

Through four games in 2013, the 6-foot-1, 207-pound sophomore is leading the nation in rushing at 156 yards per game. It doesn’t sound like a big deal until your realize that Gordon is doing so while carrying the ball just 13 times per game.

Yes, that means he is averaging nearly 12 yards per carry.

Surely, this is a statistical anomaly that can be best explained by the run-friendly system in which Gordon plays, right?

Well, Wisconsin’s other backs, James White and Corey Clement, are averaging about 7.3 yards per carry. Still outstanding, but not 12 yards per carry.

Then it’s just a four-game stat quirk, right?

Well, Gordon averaged 10 yards per carry last season, too, and gained 216 yards on nine carries against Nebraska in the Big Ten title game.

In other words, Gordon’s production just may be the result of that rare combination in college football — an elite talent plying his wares in an offense that optimizes his production.

Then there is his speed. Check out this video of his 80-yard run against Arizona State:

While Gordon’s speed isn’t truly elite, he is a legitimate breakaway back in college football. But he’s not one-dimensional as a runner. Because of his strength, he has the ability to power through the first level of the defense and break into the clear. His overall combination of size and speed might make him the most talented running back ever to suit up in Madison.

Of course, this also means he has the potential to lead the nation in rushing and develop into a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. He’s currently on pace to have 1,872 yards and 21 touchdowns when the regular season ends. Those numbers would certainly impress Heisman voters, especially if his yards per carry average continues to reside in the stratosphere.

We’ll probably find out for sure how good Gordon is this coming Saturday when Wisconsin plays at Ohio State. The Buckeyes held Gordon to -1 yards on one carry last year, as the Badgers fed the ball mostly to Montee Ball.

But if Gordon goes off against OSU this year, look for his name to start being bandied about in Heisman circles.

Kentucky’s Josh Allen adds fourth national trophy honor

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When it’s all said and done, Josh Allen is going to need a bigger trophy cabinet — or at least significantly expand his current one.

Monday, it was announced that the Kentucky senior was named as the 2018 recipient of the Jack Lambert Award. That trophy is handed out annually by the Touchdown Club of Columbus (OH) and given to the national linebacker of the year.

Previously this awards season, Allen had been named as the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Award (HERE) and Chuck Bednarik Award (HERE) as well as the recipient of the Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy (HERE). He also earned unanimous first-team All-American honors.

Allen’s 14 sacks this season set the football program’s single-season record, while his 28.5 career sacks are the most ever for a member of the Wildcats.

Utah State OC Troy Taylor named head coach at FCS Sacramento State

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For the second time since the 2018 regular season came to an end, Kyle Whittingham has seen one of his assistant coaches leave for a head-coaching job.

Exactly a week ago, Utah State announced that Utah associate head coach Gary Andersen was returning to again lead the Aggies.  Monday, Sacramento State announced that Troy Taylor has been hired as the FCS program’s next head football coach.

Taylor, who spent two seasons as Whittingham’s offensive coordinator, was the starting quarterback at Cal in the late eighties after playing his high school football in the state of California.  He also began his coaching career at the high school level near Sacramento.

“I am thrilled to be the new head football coach at Sacramento State,” Taylor said in a statement. “My family and I are excited to move back home and take on the challenge of building the Hornet Football program into something the city can be very proud. I want to thank President Nelsen, Mark Orr and the rest of the search committee for giving me this opportunity.”

With bowl season left, Utah is sixth in the Pac-12 and 67th nationally in scoring 28.7 points per game.  In Taylor’s first season in charge of the offense, they averaged 29.5 ppg.

Whittingham has already replaced Andersen with former Ute football player Sione Po’uha.

Nick Saban says Tua Tagovailoa ‘probably ahead of schedule’ in recovery from ankle surgery

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One of the biggest storylines leading into the 2018 College Football Playoff is the health of this year’s Heisman Trophy runner-up.  With Alabama’s date with Oklahoma less than two weeks away, the signs are pointing in a positive direction for Tua Tagovailoa.

The sophomore quarterback suffered a high-ankle sprain in Alabama’s SEC championship game win over Georgia two weeks ago and underwent surgery shortly thereafter to help aid the healing process.  Monday, Nick Saban sounded decidedly optimistic in giving an update on the status of his starter, who has participated at least partly in all four of the Crimson Tide’s practice session since the title game.

“He’s doing well,” the head coach said by way of ESPN.com. “I think he’s probably ahead of schedule. He’s been able to take a lot of reps. He’s been able to throw the ball from the pocket. He can run. …

“I don’t think he’s 100 percent in terms of change of direction yet. But he’s already going 100 percent on the gravity treadmill. So he’s been able to practice and he’s made really, really good progress. So we’re encouraged by that.”

Tagovailoa had been bothered by knee issues for a sizable chunk of the regular season before hurting his left ankle earlier this month.

Top-ranked Alabama will face Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and Oklahoma in the Dec. 29 Orange Bowl, which this season is serving as one of the two playoff semifinals.  The winner of that game will face the Notre Dame-Clemson in the national championship game next month.

Justin Fields’ family says QB ‘hasn’t made a decision’ to transfer from Georgia

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Maybe the future quarterback situation in Athens isn’t as straightforward and black and white as it seemed earlier in the evening.

Monday night, it was reported that Justin Fields has notified Georgia of his intent to transfer.  Subsequent to that, ESPN.com reported that “Fields is exploring the possibility of transferring, though he hasn’t yet told the Bulldogs’ coaching staff that he’s leaving.”

Additionally, at least one member of Fields’ family told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that a decision hasn’t been made one way or the other.

Asked if she could confirm reports that her son intends to transfer from Georgia, Fields’ stepmother said she could not. But she also didn’t deny them.

“I’m not at liberty to discuss anything,” Jo Ann Claudrick Fields said via telephone Monday night. “We’re not confirming or denying anything. We haven’t made a decision.

Fields’ mother also told the Journal-Constitution to talk to the quarterback’s father, Ivant Fields, as “[h]e handles everything involving football.”

If the transfer were to come to fruition, ESPN reported that Florida State, Ohio State and Oklahoma would be potential landing spots.  That website also reports that Fields is expected to play in the Sugar Bowl for the Bulldogs.

Fields was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 1 player regardless of position in the Class of 2018.  He spent his true freshman season as the primary backup to sophomore starter Jake Fromm.