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The Associated Press | September 23, 2013

Wisconsin backfield mates packing 1-2 punch

MADISON, Wis. -- They're at it again, those run-crazy Badgers.

After another stellar day on the ground for Wisconsin, the partisan discussion floating around Camp Randall Stadium following the 41-10 victory Saturday against Purdue was whether Melvin Gordon and James White formed the best 1-2 backfield punch in the country.

James White knows how to find the end zone.
Jeff Hanisch / USA TODAY Sports Images

''You know what? Like I said before, I'll let you guys debate on who's got the best backfield tandem in the nation,'' Gordon said. ''But we're playing well right now, which is good.''

Gordon ran for 147 yards and three touchdowns, while White had 145 and a 70-yard score. They had 16 carries each against the poor-tackling Boilermakers.

For its efforts, Wisconsin (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) moved up one spot in the AP Top 25 to No. 23.

Besides Arizona State in Week 3, the defenses the Badgers have faced so far have been suspect at best. Next weekend, the competition level goes up several notches with Wisconsin heading to the Horseshoe for a prime-time showdown with fourth-ranked Ohio State.

''It will be quite difficult. But we're going to attack it, we're going to attack practice, we're going to attack everything the same way,'' Gordon said. ''I know Ohio State, they've got a thing for us and we've got a thing for them. We've been back and forth.''

Unlike the Wisconsin running game, which has been decidedly one-sided in favor of the Badgers. Consider these impressive statistics:

• Gordon has rushed for 100 yards all four games this season. At 624 for the year, Gordon already has surpassed his 2012 total of 621.

• Gordon's career rushing average actually went down to 9.95 yards per carry despite his latest outburst on the ground.

• White leads all active FBS players with 35 career rushing touchdowns and 36 total scores.

Lost in the hype over Gordon and White's performances was freshman Corey Clement's 83 yards rushing and a touchdown on 13 second-half carries.

''The third guy jogging out there on the field's not too bad, either,'' Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen said.

The 6-foot-1 Gordon can take on would-be tacklers head-on and burst through the hole. The 5-foot-10 White can make defensive backs miss 1-on-1, like when the senior had both Purdue safeties whiff on back-to-back cutback moves to break free for his 70-yard touchdown run.

This might be Andersen's first year in Madison, but the formula for offensive success at Wisconsin hasn't changed.

''They've got a good line. They've got good backs,'' Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell said. ''They break tackles and they're patient with it.''

The success on the ground has some fans trying to come up with creative nicknames for the runners. Think ''Run JMC,'' for instance, after the first initials of each back's first names. Or ''MG3'' for Gordon for his full name, Melvin Gordon III.

''Melvin. Just call me Melvin,'' Gordon said. ''My coach makes fun of me a lot about MG3. I really don't care too much. You can call me what you want.''

At the rate he's producing, Gordon will be called a 1,000-yard runner in just a few weeks.

Related:
Gordon, White lead Wisconsin past Purdue

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