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Questions arise about Wisconsin’s health

BY JACOB SHEYKO | SEPTEMBER 03, 2014 5:00 AM

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No. 18 Wisconsin opened its season with a loss this past week, but it did so with their two best offensive players watching from the sideline.

Many people who viewed Wisconsin’s matchup with LSU asked the same question: Why isn’t Melvin Gordon in the game? He had just three carries in the second half.

Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen didn’t give much of an explanation after the game; he cleared that up on Monday when he met with the media.

“A lot’s been asked about the situation with Melvin,” he said. “Same thing I kind of said at halftime: The scenario was real simple at halftime. Melvin had a little bit of a hip flexor.

“Anybody that knows Melvin could see that on the long run that he broke out in the second half there. It was very obvious that he had pulled up there at the end of that run.”

Gordon finished the game with 140 yards on 16 carries, but he wasn’t the only player missing from the Badgers’ roster. Quarterback Joel Stave is out indefinitely with a sore throwing shoulder.

Stave didn’t take a snap in Wisconsin’s season-opener. The Badgers aren’t sure when he may return to the field.

“It’s a tough deal for Joel. He’s very frustrated,” said Andersen, who announced Stave’s injury several days before the game against LSU. “I did not think it was the right thing to tell everyone that he could not play in that game a couple of days before.”

Rutgers turning heads

To put it nicely, Rutgers did not enter its first Big Ten season surrounded by high expectations.

A brutal schedule, new competition, and a lack of big-name players were just a few reasons for the low expectations. That brutal schedule began Week 1 for Rutgers, which traveled across the country to play Washington State on Aug.30.

To the surprise of many, the Scarlet Knights left with a 41-38 win.

“When you’re the new kid on the block, it doesn’t surprise me that people have questions about us,” Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood said.

Rutgers had plenty of standout performances in its first official game as a member of the Big Ten.

Gary Nova threw for 281 yards, and Paul James rushed for 173 yards.

The Scarlet Knights will return home to play Howard in Week 2.

Marquee matchup

For the second-straight week, a Big Ten opponent will play a top-15 nonconference opponent. As with most nonconference games, the matchup is more than just one team against another: it’s being billed as conference versus conference.

However, don’t tell that to No. 7 Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio, who is prepping this week for the Spartans matchup with No. 3 Oregon.

“We’re going to line up and represent Michigan State,” he said. “We’re not going to put much burden on our players about representing the conference.”

The game will offer a clash of styles: the spread offense of Oregon against the smash-mouth defense of Michigan State. Despite being in the Big Ten, Dantonio has seen plenty of spread offenses.

“We see quite a lot of spread offenses over the last five years,” he said. “But just because you run a spread offense doesn’t mean you do the same thing.”

Dantonio was asked Tuesday if he thinks the Big Ten has the respect of the other conferences. He said he’d let his résumé do the talking.

“We won the Rose Bowl last year,” he said. “… That’s the best we can do.”

Follow @JacobSheyko on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis about the Iowa football team.

 


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