Melvin Gordon told reporters he returned to Wisconsin rather than enter the NFL Draft to win a national championship, not to chase a Heisman Trophy.

Either way, Gordon needs a stellar game for the Badgers to compete for a national championship and have any hope of striking that famous pose.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound back averages 8.3 yards per touch in his college career. In other words, Wisconsin can get him the ball on first-and-10 and expect, on a play with average execution, to face second-and-2.

I could continue with the superlatives, but Google News offers plenty of reading material on Gordon, for those inclined.

But what about LSU’s defense? How do the Tigers match up with Gordon and the Wisconsin run game?

Let’s start with the secondary. Wisconsin’s quarterback situation is at least as murky as LSU’s, and the Badgers lack the stable of four-star recruits at receiver that Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron enjoy. Losing Jared Abbrederis means more to Wisconsin than losing Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., if for no other reason than that.

Tigers corners Rashard Robinson (suspended for game one) and Tre’Davious White went through a few hiccups last season, especially in two-minute situations, but should combine as one of the toughest tandems in the SEC this season. LSU should be able to count on them to play man coverage against the Badgers receivers and allow the linebackers (and maybe a creeping safety) to focus their attention on Gordon.

LSU fields a retooled front seven. Starting defensive tackles Ego Ferguson (second-round pick) and Anthony Johnson (signed as an undrafted free agent) followed a well-worn path from Baton Rouge to the NFL Draft as early entrants. Quentin Thomas, a co-starter at tackle, reportedly is ready to play after rehabbing a torn biceps.

That’s a key distinction, because Thomas is the only upperclassman listed on LSU’s three-deep. Redshirt freshman Frank Herron and fellow starter Christian LaCouture, a sophomore, are the two other principals in the middle of the Tigers’ defensive line. They’ll be up against the interior of Wisconsin’s offensive line, patrolled by center Don Voltz, a redshirt sophomore, in a matchup of potential future NFL players.

Jermauria Rasco (6-foot-3, 247 pounds) and especially Danielle Hunter (6-foot-6, 240 pounds) are terrific defensive ends, but Wisconsin’s tackles have to be smiling. Left tackle Tyler Marz (6-foot-5, 321 pounds) is no small human being, but All-American candidate Rob Havenstein nearly dwarfs him at 6-foot-8, 333 pounds. If those two can get their hands on LSU’s slippery defensive ends in the run game, they’ll be able to get a good push.

Overall, Wisconsin’s big, strong offensive line won’t blast the Tigers off the field, but they’ll create enough push for perhaps the country’s best running back to find room to maneuver.

It’s up to LSU’s linebackers, then. Lamar Louis recently revealed that he played last season with a fractured right wrist, essentially chicken-winging his right arm when it came time to shed blocks. He’s a fast, athletic player, along with Kwon Alexander and Kendall Beckwith. Senior D.J. Welter may lead the team in tackles, depending on how much Beckwith plays. The group underperformed last season by most accounts, but their speed is an advantage against Wisconsin.

“He makes good cuts, good decisions. I think he’s up for the Heisman Trophy,” Louis told “But I’m going to say what Chief (defensive coordinator John Chavis) said, tells us all the time, he’s not someone we haven’t faced in these past years. He’s not someone we don’t practice against (like) Terrence Magee, Leonard Fournette, Jeremy Hill.

“We’ll be ready. We’re not taking him lightly. He’s a great back.”

Will they take good angles, stay gap disciplined and be able to wrap up Gordon’s legs? The answers will determine who wins the matchup between Gordon and LSU’s front seven.

The Tigers don’t have to dominate this matchup, but the team needs to make sure Gordon doesn’t have a historic day, especially if Wisconsin can build a lead.