Notebook: Iowa prepares for Gordon


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In July, when all 14 Big Ten teams met in Chicago for the conference’s annual media days, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon explained why, exactly, he wasn’t looking forward to the Badgers’ upcoming game against Iowa at Kinnick Stadium.

“The fans, man,” Gordon said at the Chicago Hilton. “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.”

That game — a 28-9 Badger victory last year in Iowa City — wasn’t a bad game for Gordon, by most measures. He managed 62 rushing yards on 17 carries.

But it was, however, a far cry from his record-setting performance from a week ago, where Gordon rushed for 408 yards — an NCAA single-game record — on 25 carries and scored 4 touchdowns against Nebraska.

“You can see he’s got personality,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He’s a really enthusiastic, energetic player and very strong-willed. And he’s been able to stay healthy, too. That’s no easy trick for a running back, sometimes. And you combine all that.

“But all that being said, to see someone do what he did last week, obviously hasn’t happened. But the class that he entered was a pretty small class.”

Gordon was once committed to play at Iowa but chose to stay near his hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin, instead. As Ferentz said on Tuesday, “We dated for a while, and he picked the home-state school, which is usually not a big news headline.”

Ferentz said it’s going to take a near-perfect week of practice and an even better execution of the game plan on Saturday if Iowa is going to have any chance at slowing Gordon down.

His players agreed.

“If we can keep them off the ground, it creates more opportunities for us to get turnovers, interceptions, like Northwestern did against Wisconsin,” defensive tackle Carl Davis said, referring to the Wildcats’ 20-14 win over the Badgers on Oct. 4.

Weisman semifinalist for walk-on award

Senior running back Mark Weisman was named one of 10 semifinalists for the 2014 Burlsworth Trophy, awarded annually to the most outstanding college football player who began his career as a walk-on.

“You hope your daughter brings him home a guy like that, because he’s almost too good to be true,” Ferentz said about Weisman. “He just works hard. He’s probably too quiet and too humble. He’s just wired that way.”

Weisman has rushed for 676 yards this season and has scored 14 touchdowns. He’s just 3 rushing touchdowns shy of tying the program’s all-time career mark (33, by Sedrick Shaw and Tavian Banks).

McCarron out for next couple weeks

Return man Riley McCarron came down with mono last week, Ferentz said Tuesday, and he will miss the next couple of weeks.

“Hopefully, we’ll get him back right after that,” Ferentz said.

With McCarron out, receiver Matt VandeBerg fielded all the punts against Illinois last weekend, and he will likely do so again against Wisconsin.

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