Wisconsin opened its season with a 28-24 loss to LSU on Saturday in Houston. Here's the good, the bad and the B1G from the Badgers' defeat.
— Well, Melvin Gordon is Melvin Gordon. The Badgers' Heisman hopeful running back put on a clinic in the first, oh, 40 minutes of Saturday night's contest. He rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown. He looked awesome — when he was on the field — particularly on the the first play of the second half, a 63-yard dash that set up a touchdown for teammates Corey Clement. In fact, the Badgers' rushing game as a whole looked pretty stellar, finishing with 268 yards. Unfortunately, the game ended with more questions than answers from this unit, as Gordon carried the ball just twice in the second half. We'll get to that later.
— The Wisconsin defense also shone for the game's first 40 minutes or so. LSU, a power in the sport's most powerful conference, was nearly completely stonewalled in the first half. If it weren't for an 80-yard touchdown pass play, LSU would've been shutout with fewer than 60 yards to its name in the game's first two quarters. Credit the Badger defense for that, even if things turned dramatically as the game went on.
[MORE BIG TEN: The good, the bad, the B1G: Cal 31, Northwestern 24]
— Where to start? Let's go with the quarterback first, as Tanner McEvoy was about as bad as a QB can be for a major college football program. McEvoy, though he was surely trying his hardest, just couldn't make many good throws. He finished with this stat line for the ages: 8-for-24 for 50 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. The picks were on throws that were way off the mark, and his longest pass of the night traveled just 14 yards. McEvoy was getting lambasted by fans and observers on social media, and while you feel bad for the guy, he just didn't have what it takes on Saturday. It's hard to believe he was a better option than Joel Stave.
— But McEvoy didn't do it alone. The team completely collapsed from the middle of the third quarter on. Wisconsin had LSU on the ropes, leading 24-7 after an early third-quarter touchdown. But things spiraled out of control from there, with Gordon disappearing, McEvoy continuing to play poorly and the defense suddenly allowing the Bayou Bengals — who couldn't do a thing on offense in the first half — to get whatever they wanted on offense. It was not just surprising, it was downright strange. The game was just turned upside down, with LSU grabbing momentum and refusing to let go.
[MORE BIG TEN: The good, the bad, the B1G: Illini 28, Youngstown State 17]
— Then there's the injuries. Wisconsin lost a pair of starting defensive linemen in Konrad Zagzebski and Warren Herring. Zagzebski was taken to the hospital, and Herring was on crutches by night's end. That right there could have helped flip the script, as the Tigers ran much better after their departures. But then there's whatever happened to Gordon. Some Twitter reports said he somehow injured his hamstring, but he was inserted in the game late to pass block, though he didn't receive a carry. It was all very odd.
Andersen said Melvin Gordon had "an issue" at halftime. Didn't elaborate or explain Gordon's absence after long run to start second half— Brian Bennett (@BennettESPN) August 31, 2014
[MORE BIG TEN: The good, the bad, the B1G: Penn State 26, UCF 24]
— This isn't very "B1G," but the Badgers missed out on something that could have been real special Saturday night. Not only could it have been a win that catapulted them into the College Football Playoff discussion, even this early in the season, but it could have been a win that set the tone for the way the conference is perceived the rest of the season. That type of win is still possible next week when Michigan State takes on Oregon, but a Big Ten win over an SEC school could have done wonders for whichever team ends up Big Ten champ.