The key to solving the Badger riddle is quite simple to answer on paper: stop Melvin Gordon. To put this to action, however, is another story. Gordon came out of Kenosha, Wis. in 2011, and after two years of toiling on the depth chart, the redshirt junior broke out in a big way last season.
Gordon amassed 1,609 yards and 12 touchdowns on his way to becoming the premier running back in the Big Ten. All of this was accomplished on 206 carries, which translates to 7.8 yards per carry. In a league predicated on “three yards and a cloud of dust,” this average certainly jumps off the page. Gordon has the size (6-foot-1, 213 pounds) and the speed to make Saturdays miserable for opponents. It obviously does not hurt to have an offensive line that averages 6-foot-5 and 321 pounds.
Enter John Chavis, the defensive coordinator for LSU. An SEC coordinator for 19 years, Chavis is no stranger to scheming for talented running backs with monster offensive lines. Danielle Hunter and the rest of the front four will be prepared to handle the Badger ground attack under Chavis’ tutelage. Chavis’ track record speaks for itself; in the last three years, six of the nine draft-eligible starters on LSU’s defensive line were picked in the NFL Draft.
LSU’s front four will certainly have their hands full, but if history is any indication, Gordon may be in for a rough evening. The Tigers have dominated regular season out of conference opponents with extreme prejudice in recent years, and the location of the game points to a pro-LSU crowd. If the Tiger line shuts Gordon down and puts a hurting on Joel Stave, the rowdy Tiger fanbase will let Wisconsin know about it. Anyone who has attended a night game in Baton Rouge understands this concept very well.
Look for Gordon to have a couple of big carries early but find himself shut down after the first quarter. LSU will win this game as long as their quarterback play remains mistake-free. “Defensive Line U” will take this game by a touchdown.