Moments ago, the seventh ranked Wisconsin Badgers spoiled Drew Brees’ homecoming visit for the Purdue Boilermaker’s Senior Day, with a dominating 49-20 victory. While Purdue struck blood first, after Wisconsin’s ensuing touchdown drive and TJ Watt’s monster pick 6, Wisconsin never looked back. Wisconsin continues to dominate conference opponents and is now one win away from a Big 10 Championship birth.
Today we traveled to Camp Randall Stadium, as the Wisconsin Badgers hosted the Boilermakers of Purdue. It was all Wisconsin all the way, as the Badgers dominated Purdue throughout their 24-7 victory. As expect, the Badger stuck to the run and the Boilermakers had no answer. Read our game recap here and check out our photos of Wisconsin’s Big 10 victory below.
With Wisconsin fighting for its Bowl aspirations, they took another step in the right direction Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison as the Badgers (5-2) defeated the Boilermakers (1-6) of Purdue 24-7. The offense made enough plays and the Badgers defense, which has been dominant for long stretches this season, was brilliant again on this day.
The Badgers received the game’s opening kickoff and immediately went to work against a struggling Boilermakers’ defense. Senior quarterback Joel Stave and junior tailback Dare Ogunbowale were sharp as the Badgers marched right down the field for the game’s first touchdown. Stave was perfect on the drive while Ogunbowale had several effective runs.
True freshman Alec Ingold, a linebacker by trade who has emerged as a new weapon for Wisconsin in the run game, capped the opening drive with a four yard rush for a touchdown.
The effectiveness and balance of the Badgers opening drive had a feeling of blowout home win being imminent. Especially, after Purdue went three and out on their subsequent opening drive. But not so fast …
The Badgers were once again marching on their second drive. Stave continued his brilliance, making quick reads and firing passes that were right on the money. The senior started the game a perfect six for six for 68 yards.
Facing a third down and 8 from the Purdue 11 yard line, Ogunbowale was flagged for a false start, moving the team back to a more complicated try of 3rd and 13. Stave dropped back and could not get his footing with the pass rush closing in and tried to zip a pass across the field that sailed on Stave right into the waiting arms of Purdue defensive back LeRoy Clark.
Clark, who recently accepted a position move to safety, returned the Stave pick 66 yards to the Wisconsin 29 yard line, breaking several tackles along the way. It was Stave’s only real hiccup in the game.
Purdue, finding themselves with excellent field position, seized the moment. Purdue, wanting to make a statement, chose to go for it on 4th and 1 from the Badgers 20. Freshman tailback Markell Jones was able to convert. Freshman quarterback David Blough capped the drive with an untouched 2 yard touchdown scramble.
The Badgers missed a golden opportunity to extend the lead just before half, as struggling sophomore kicker Rafael Gaglionone missed from 35 yards out. Gaglionone had hit from 28 earlier in the half, as the Badgers lead just 10-7 going into intermission.
Strangely, the Badgers did not punt in the first half, and they outgained the Boilermakers 272 yards to 61. Despite the lopsidedness, Wisconsin only able to build just that three point lead.
Purdue had first crack in the second half. The Badgers, who presumably got a verbal lashing from their head coach Paul Chryst, came out strong, forcing a three and out.
What followed were two Badgers punts and two more Boilermakers punts. On Purdue’s third punt of the second half, the Badgers finally gave the Camp Randall sellout crowd reason to “jump around.”
Purdue punter Joe Schopper shanked a miserable punt that netted just 27 yards as Wisconsin took over at the Purdue 33 yard line. The generous field position was all the Badgers needed to get going.
Stave continued his fantastic accuracy with passes of 7, 4, and 19 yards setting up a first and goal at the Purdue four yard line. From there, Ogunbowale pounded it in, giving the Badgers some much needed breathing room at 17-7.
Wisconsin would put the game out of reach after they got the ball right back following yet another Purdue punt.
Stave was at his best here on the Badgers final scoring drive on the day. He carved up a worn-out Boilermakers’ defense, going 7 for 7 for 56 yards. For the second time Saturday, Ingold ran the ball in for the score, this time from 1 yard out making it 24-7.
Stave, despite the near pick-six in the first half, had a very quiet, yet stellar effort for the Badgers as the senior finished 30 of 39 for 322 yards. Stave nickel and dimed his way to his second consecutive 300 yard day as he and the Badgers longest pass play on the day was just 14 yards.
It marked the first time a Wisconsin quarterback had back-to-back 300 yard performances since former Badgers quarterback and Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson did so in 2011.
Senior #1 wide-out Alex Erickson continued his sparkling final season in Madison, finishing with nine receptions for 86 yards, which both lead the team.
Junior Robert Wheelwright had 6 catches for 61 yards for Wisconsin.
The Badgers did just enough on the ground to keep the Boilermakers defense honest for Stave. Wisconsin ran the ball 37 times for just 96 yards, a 2.8 per average.
Redshirt freshman inside linebacker T.J. Edwards was a man possessed for the Badgers, leading a total defensive effort. Edwards was outstanding, racking up 16 tackles, including a forced fumble and a tackle for a loss.
The Badgers defense held another opponent under 100 yards on the ground as the Boilermakers ran for only 55 yards. Purdue was unable to break one single big play, finishing with just 191 yards of total offense.
Wisconsin finished the game with a healthy 418 yards of total offense, while also winning time of possession 37:46 to 22:09.
The Badgers, who hit on their goal of improving on their third down conversion rate Saturday (50%), will have to clean up the penalties next week against a much more capable opponent.
Wisconsin will face a big road test next Saturday when they travel to Champagne, Illinois to take on a talented Fighting Illini (4-2) squad fresh off their bye week. The game will kick off at 2:30 pm (Central Standard).
Heading into their third week of conference play, it is clear that Wisconsin isn’t getting soft-toss matchups like Hawaii, Troy, or Miami (OH) anymore. Looking like a well-oiled machine pre-conference, the Wisconsin Badgers (4-2) offense has sputtered over the first two conferences games.
Star running back Corey Clement continues to be sidelined while he recovers from sports hernia surgery.
The best cure of not-so-good offense is an abysmal defense and that is exactly what the Badgers will be up against early on Saturday when they host the Boilermakers of Purdue (1-5). Purdue is surrendering 215.2 rushing yards per game, including a whopping 326 last week in their 41-13 loss to Minnesota.
In last week’s thrilling victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Badgers simply could not get the running game rolling through the game’s first three quarters. But as they say, persistence pays, and the fourth quarter was a completely different story. Instead of abandoning the run game, as teams on every level are quick to do, Wisconsin remained steadfast.
Dare Ogunbowale had runs of 15, 32, and 12 yards as the Badgers ran the ball on 15 of their first 24 plays of the decisive fourth quarter.
Although the Badgers should hardly be bothered by the Boilermakers in the running game, if they do encounter struggles, expect Wisconsin head football coach Paul Chryst to stick with it like last Saturday.
“I think that is the nature of the run game,” noted senior quarterback Joel Stave. “Early in the game both teams are excited and running the ball can be tough against a good front like Nebraska. But I thought the O-line did a good job down the stretch kind of wearing them down. Keep leaning on them and eventually you’re going to get some runs that pop.”
Wisconsin is confident it can summon the right game strategy on the fly. It takes just a little bit of attention paid to your opponent in order to be successful, according Joe Rudolph, UW’s offensive coordinator.
“I think you do a good job of watching, do a good job of seeing where you aren’t successful,” said Rudolph. “…you kind of tweak a couple things, you talk on the sideline.”
The key to victory for the Badgers lies in their ability to convert on third-down, a task with which they have struggled during conference competition. It’s arguably the reason they lost at home to Iowa, and the issue was present during the game last week at Nebraska.
Wisconsin has converted just 31% of its third-down chances, good for only 7th in the Big Ten.
The Badgers have been working on it in practice, and will look to up that percentage Saturday, according to senior #1 receiver Alex Erickson.
“We’re putting a lot of focus on it,” said Erickson. “That’s one of the things that is tough. We’re getting different looks and teams are bringing pressure …but it is what an offense needs to be good at to sustain drives and put points on the board.”
If Purdue has any chance of victory, they will need their freshman quarterback David Blough to be effective. So far on the season, Blough has thrown for more interceptions than touchdowns.
Freshman tailback Markell Jones has been a bright spot for the underwhelming Boilermakers. Jones has found the end zone five times already this season and is averaging a healthy 5.8 yards per carry.
He’ll have his hands full against a stout Badgers run defense, however.
Wisconsin is 45-28-9 against Purdue all time.
Prediction:Wisconsin 27, Purdue 7
Game time: Sunday, October 17, 11:00 AM CT on BTN, BTN2; Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI
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