You’ve seen it in movies and video games. The hero courageously defeats the foe, only to realize another equally-fit enemy lies in wait.
It’s what the BYU football team will face as it heads to Wisconsin to take on the No. 24 Badgers and dynamic running back duo Melvin Gordon and James White.
“They love to run the football,” said BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall.
Gordon has emerged as the top Heisman candidate among running backs this season. The sophomore has already racked up 1,074 yards on the ground and has gained at least 140 yards in six of Wisconsin’s eight games. He’s being touted as the next great running back at Wisconsin, a school that has produced players like Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne and NCAA touchdown record-holder Montee Ball.
When Gordon needs a breather, White takes over. The senior tailback has paid his dues at Wisconsin, having gained 3,375 career rushing yards with 41 touchdowns for the Badgers.
The combination of Gordon and White is fearsome, but BYU is up for the challenge. The Cougars have allowed only four rushing touchdowns this year and are only allowing 3.7 yards per carry. With Gordon and White having combined for 20 rushing touchdowns this season, something has to give. BYU hopes it can play with the physicality and savvy needed to shut the duo down.
“They’re playing into our strength,” said linebacker Tyler Beck. “We’ll see how it goes.”
Mendenhall says while it’s impossible to stop Wisconsin from gaining yards on the ground, he just hopes to keep them out of the end zone.
“The number-one thing I care about it is how many points they score,” he said. “If we can manage that we’ll have a chance to win.”
The game that was anticipated by some to be BYU’s biggest challenge of the year features two teams playing the best they’ve played all season. Both teams are 6-2. BYU rolls into Madison on a five-game win streak. Since losing to Ohio State, Wisconsin has annihilated three consecutive Big Ten foes. BYU quarterback Taysom Hill knows the Cougars will have to play well to come out on top.
“It’s gonna take everything we have to beat these guys,” he said.
BYU takes on Wisconsin Saturday, Nov. 9, at 1:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN.