Very few running backs in the the history of college football produced the type of season Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon has. It’s not quite finished, but Gordon’s 2,336 rushing yards were enough to be honored with the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back.
Only three men ran for more yards in a season than Gordon. The single-season rushing record might be out of Gordon’s reach — he is 292 yards behind Barry Sanders‘ historic 1988 campaign — but he remains in striking distance of the second- and third-best efforts in major college football history.
With 232 rushing yards in Outback Bowl against the Auburn Tigers, Gordon will only trail Sanders. Only once this season Gordon surpassed 292 yards in a game, but he ran for more than 232 yards three times.
Even with a record-breaking season, Gordon had stiff competition to win the Doak Walker Award. Gordon wasn’t the only running back to rush for over 2,000 yards this season. Indiana’s Tevin Coleman amassed 2,036 rushing yards this season. Unlike Gordon, Coleman can’t add to his total, because the Hoosiers didn’t qualify for a bowl game.
For the first time in the award’s history, all three finalists were from the Big Ten Conference. The other finalist was Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, who rushed for 1,523 yards.
Gordon may have struggled in the Big Ten Championship game with only 76 yards, but his entire body of work is as impressive as nearly any other running back in the history of college football.