Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon couldn’t believe what he saw when glancing at his team’s 2014 schedule for the first time, or maybe he didn’t want to believe it.
The Badgers, much to Gordon’s dismay, will play Iowa on Nov. 22 at Kinnick Stadium. He’ll be reunited with an environment that was a major distraction last season.
“I saw the schedule and I was like, really, we have to go back?” Gordon said Tuesday at the Big Ten football meetings. “I thought they would at least come here and get a little taste of Wisconsin.
“But I just have to be ready for it. I’ve been through it, so I know how to handle it this time. But I’ll probably bring some ear plus with me this time or something.”
Gordon had his least productive game last season against Iowa, which is also the school to which he was previously committed.
The Hawkeyes held Gordon to a season-low 62 rushing yards on 17 rushing attempts. He only averaged 3.6 yards per carry, marking the only time last season that Gordon averaged less than 4.5 yards per carry.
Wisconsin still prevailed 28-9 on Nov. 2, but the Iowa defense, with help from the Iowa fans, still made the afternoon miserable for Gordon.
“It was a rough game for me, man,” Gordon said. “I didn’t play as well as I wanted to. But the fans, man, it’s like everything I said in high school about Iowa, they had a paper right there and quoted everything from me.
“I had such a hard time with Iowa, I’m telling you. Their fans, they really got to me. I was just so upset. I was just so mad that the Iowa fans got in my head that game.”
A native of Kenosha, Wis., Gordon first committed to Iowa, but switched to the home-state Badgers in Nov. 2010 when former Iowa defensive lineman Bret Bielema was the head coach Wisconsin. Gordon has shown big-play capability since joining the Badgers, rushing for 1,609 yards last season. He also scored 12 touchdowns and averaged 7.8 yards per carry last season. His yards-per-carry average led the nation last season.
Iowa held him well below his average, though, thanks to an unsettling environment in Kinnick Stadium where the fans sit near the field.
“Some of the stuff they said, it was pretty funny, but I can’t say it on camera,” Gordon said. “It was pretty funny now that I think about it.
“They’re like right where you are it feels like and they’re just in your ear all game whether you’re winning or you’re losing. In your ear. In your ear. In your ear. And it gets to you if you don’t know how to handle it.”
Former Badger running back James White, who was a senior last season, helped Gordon cope with the hostile environment.
“James definitely helped me out with that because I had never been in the type of situation before where someone is just sitting right there talking trash in your ear all day,” Gordon said. “He had so he helped me with that. He really just helped me keep my cool, and I thank him for that.”
Gordon had been warned about the distractions inside Kinnick Stadium and about the fans being seated so close to the field.
But nothing could’ve prepared him for what he experienced.
“I knew it was bad,” Gordon said. “They told me about it. But I didn’t know it was that bad. But it was even worse because I de-committed from there.”
Gordon said he feels no ill will towards the Iowa program. He spoke highly of Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who was seated near him at a table during Tuesday’s interview sessions.
“I liked Iowa,” Gordon said. “I thought it was a great place. The head coach I thought was phenomenal. I thought he was a great coach.
“I don’t knock Iowa. I just decided I was a better fit at Wisconsin.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football