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10/20/2013 12:21 AM EDT
No. 25 Wisconsin, Gordon crush Illinois 56-32
WISCONSIN 56, ILLINOIS 32

By DAVID MERCER
Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Wisconsin lost defensive leader Chris
Borland to injury early on Saturday and even with an early
three-touchdown lead struggled to put Illinois away.

So the No. 25 Badgers put the game in Melvin Gordon's hands and
he delivered.

Gordon rushed for 142 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 25
Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) to a 56-32 rout of Illinois. James
White backed him up with another 98 yards in 20 carries and two
touchdowns.

"The offense was very powerful tonight," Badgers coach Gary
Andersen said. "They ran the ball extremely well."

Gordon, who has 1,012 yards for the season, said the Badgers'
21-0 first quarter lead was a key to the game.

"That momentum at the beginning was important," Gordon said. "We
knew we had to come out fast, especially on the road. They tried
to take it from us but we took right back."

Illinois coach Tim Beckman said defense was a problem for the
Illini (3-3, 0-2) , but so was a running game that managed just
72 yards on 29 carries against one of the top run defenses in
the country.

"When you play against a team like that, you've got to be
clocking on all cylinders," he said. "Defensively, we didn't
tackle well in space."

Borland, the team's leading tackler, said he hurt his right
hamstring covering a punt in the first quarter. He never
returned, watching much of the second half in street clothes.

"I just couldn't play," he said. "It's going to be OK, they've
already started to take care of it."

Andersen said he expects him back soon but is glad to have a bye
week coming to give the linebacker time to heal.

Gordon went over the 1,000-yard mark on a 13-yard touchdown run
in the third quarter that put the Badgers up 42-17. It capped
the second of two bruising, third-quarter drives that put
Illinois away. White finished the first with a 2-yard touchdown
pass from Joel Stave.

Before the drives, Illinois had found ways to claw back from an
early 21-0 deficit and trailed 28-17 at halftime.

"Defensively we played hard and flew around the field," Andersen
said. "(But) we're better than that on D. We have to be better
than that."

On a day when Michigan and Indiana combined for 1,319 yards of
offense and 110 points, the decisive Badger drives looked like
old-time Big Ten football - using tough backs, smart running and
short passes to put a lesser opponent away and stay close to
Ohio State in the Big Ten Leaders division.

White took a short toss from Stave for his touchdown, lunging
hard through a tackle to tuck the ball over the goal line. The
touchdown ended a nine-play, 75-yard drive that chewed up just
over five minutes and put Illinois on its heels.

Gordon's score wrapped up a five-play, 56-yard drive as he took
the handoff and charged into the line, saw nothing there and
used his speed to bounce outside and easily cover the 13 yards
that put the Badgers up by 25 at 42-17.

Illinois was all but done and on its way to its 16th straight
Big Ten loss.

Borland's absence didn't improve Illinois' ability to run. The
Badgers entered the game as the 10th-best run defense in the
country, giving up 90.1 yards a game. Josh Ferguson led Illinois
with just 25 yards on seven carries. Borland's backup, Marcus
Trotter, made the most of his shot with a team-high nine
tackles.

Illinois' offense revolved around quarterback Nathan
Scheelhaase, who had 249 yards passing. Steve Hull caught six
passes for 105 yards.

After Wisconsin breezed to its 21-0 first quarter lead, Illinois
spent the rest of the night trying to catch up.

Gordon's first-quarter touchdown covered 26 yards and showed off
his speed. He ran into a small gap on the left side of the
Illini line and, with speed that seemed to surprise the Illinois
defense, quickly cut past what briefly looked like a potential
tackler and sped into the end zone. With 6:03 left in the first
quarter, Wisconsin led 14-0.

Illinois tried a reverse to open its next possession, but
Scheelhaase couldn't handle backup quarterback Aaron Bailey's
pitch, bobbling it before it dropped to the ground. Wisconsin
defensive end Ethan Hemer recovered the ball at the Illini 8.

Three plays later, Stave hit tight end Brian Wozniak a yard deep
in the end zone for an easy score.

---

Follow David Mercer on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/davidmercerap

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