Iowa City, IA (SportsNetwork.com) - Melvin Gordon rushed for two touchdowns as 14th-ranked Wisconsin held off a charge from a persistent Iowa team for a 26-24 win on Saturday.
The victory sets up a showdown against Minnesota next Saturday in Madison, with the winner securing the Big Ten West title and a spot in the conference championship game.
Gordon finished with 200 yards on 31 carries, tying Ron Dayne's single-season Big Ten rushing record of 2,109 yards set in 1996. Gordon broke the FBS single-game rushing record a week ago with 408 yards against Nebraska, but Oklahoma true freshman Samaje Perine eclipsed his mark with 427 yards on Saturday.
Joel Stave completed 11-of-14 passes for 139 yards and scrambled 12 yards for a key third down late in the fourth quarter as Wisconsin (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) won its sixth straight game.
"First of all, tremendous victory, I'm so proud of these kids and the way they kept fighting," Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen said. "All three phases contributed which was great to see."
Jake Rudock threw for 311 yards and two touchdown passes on 20-of-30 attempts and added a score on the ground for Iowa (7-4, 4-3).
"We came up a little short in the end," said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. "It was one heck of a football game, in one heck of an environment."
Wisconsin seemed to be on its way to an easy win as Rafael Gaglianone kicked a 22-yard field goal to make it 19-3 with 5:33 remaining in the third quarter.
The Iowa offense came alive, however.
The Badgers were poised for another defensive stand, but Mark Weisman converted a 4th-and-1 from the Iowa 39 with a 2-yard carry. Rudock then connected with Tevaun Smith for a significant gain. After Jordan Canzeri ran eight yards to the Wisconsin 20, Rudock hit Kevonte Martin-Manley in the end zone. A two-point conversion made the score 19-11 with 2:45 left in the third.
Following a Wisconsin punt, Rudock began the next Iowa drive with completions of 28 and 33 yards. A pass interference call in the end zone that should have been on the offense set the Hawkeyes up at the 2 and Rudock scored on a draw. The Badgers retained the lead by stopping Iowa on a second two-point try.
Wisconsin faced a 3rd-and-13 at its own 32 on the ensuing drive, but Gordon moved the chains with a 35-yard catch-and-run. Gordon followed with a 10-yard reception before scoring on a 23-yard run.
The Hawkeyes refused to go away and Rudock capped a seven-play, 86-yard drive with a 9-yard TD pass to Jake Duzey with 5:01 left.
Wisconsin chewed up the remaining time on the clock thanks in part to Stave's 12-yard run on a 3rd-and-8 from the Wisconsin 38.
It was not a good start for Iowa as Weisman fumbled on the second play from scrimmage. Michael Caputo made the recovery for Wisconsin at the Iowa 39 and the turnover led to a Gaglianone 50-yard field goal.
The next Iowa drive lasted nearly eight minutes and ended with a 26-yard Marshall Koehn field goal.
Tanner McEvoy had a 45-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, but a missed extra point left the Badgers' lead at 9-3. Gordon scored on a 6-yard run 1:05 before halftime.
Gordon surpassed 2,000 yards in a season in fewer carries (241) than any player in FBS history. The previous record was 251 carries set by Penn State's Larry Johnson in 2002 ... Wisconsin converted 7-of-13 third downs ... Smith had 78 yards on four catches.