2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 10, Purdue at Wisconsin
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Nov. 5 at Wisconsin 62 … Purdue 17
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) MADISON, Wis. -- To make sure that a two-game funk didn't snowball into a lost season, No. 19 Wisconsin returned to the familiar formula that worked so well earlier: Keep handing the ball to Montee Ball, and sprinkle in some big plays from Russell Wilson.
Ball rushed for a career-high 223 yards with three touchdowns and Wisconsin rebounded from back-to-back losses with a 62-17 rout of Purdue on Saturday.
"We needed this," Ball said. "Badly."
Saturday's victory was a boost to the Badgers (7-2, 3-2 Big Ten) after late collapses at Michigan State and Ohio State the past two weeks cost them a potential shot at the national championship.
"Two weeks that seemed like an eternity have come to an end," Badgers coach Bret Bielema said. "We've won so many games around here. I was thinking about this, I was trying to remember the last time we lost games back-to-back. It's been a while, and you're just not used to that feeling. You're not used to it, and I don't want our kids to ever get used to it."
Ball was the star but the Badgers got another standout effort from Wilson, who threw two touchdowns and scored on a scramble. Wilson was 15 of 20 for 205 yards, and had 76 yards rushing before Bielema rested him early in the fourth quarter.
"He's right up there with Denard Robinson as far as his ability to extend plays," Purdue linebacker Joe Holland said. "He's a really, really good decision-maker and he's not going to throw too many stupid passes. If he doesn't see anything, he's going to make something happen with his legs."
Raheem Mostert had five kickoff returns for 206 yards for the Boilermakers (4-5, 2-3), helping them stay in the game early on. Caleb TerBush started at quarterback for Purdue, with Robert Marve also getting some time.
"Of course everybody's upset right now," Purdue running back Ralph Bolden said. "We're just worry about next week now, this game is done and over with."
Already trailing 38-17 at halftime, the Boilermakers tried a fourth-down conversion early in the third quarter but Wisconsin's Mike Taylor stopped Akeem Shavers short on fourth-and-5 at the Wisconsin 36.
The ball went back to the Badgers -- and it wasn't long before Ball broke free for a rambling 29-yard touchdown to put Wisconsin ahead 45-17.
Bielema said Ball might be the most complete running back he has coached.
"He's wired in a way right now where he expects success on every play," Bielema said.
Wisconsin's Chris Borland then came up with an interception deep in Purdue territory, and the Badgers' James White scored on a 5-yard touchdown run to make the score 52-17 with 11:01 left in the third quarter.
The Badgers made it look easy on their first possession, as Ball went through a big hole in the middle of the line to break a 44-yard run on Wisconsin's first play from scrimmage. A 1-yard touchdown to tight end Jacob Pedersen gave Wisconsin a 7-0 lead.
But the Boilermakers came right back, getting a 49-yard kickoff return from Mostert. TerBush immediately found tight end Crosby Wright up the middle for a 30-yard touchdown to tie the game.
Wisconsin took a 14-7 lead later in the first quarter, as Wilson's 66-yard strike to wide-open receiver Jeff Duckworth helped set up Wilson's 5-yard touchdown pass to Jared Abbrederis.
But the Badgers' recent special teams problems struck again, allowing a 74-yard kickoff return to Mostert. The Badgers held the Boilermakers to a 25-yard field goal by Carson Wiggs, cutting Wisconsin's lead to 14-10 with 1:13 left in the first quarter. Wisconsin's special teams came under scrutiny the past two weeks after breakdowns in the Michigan State and Ohio State losses.
"I think we're going to have to re-evaluate our personnel," Bielema said.
Ball then got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter, taking it up the middle on second-and-goal from the 1 for an easy touchdown and a 21-10 lead.
The ensuing kickoff went out of the end zone, preventing another big return by Purdue and earning a sarcastic cheer from the crowd.
Taylor picked off TerBush, and Wilson took over with his feet, with a 20-yard scramble to help set up his 6-yard scoring run on second-and-goal. The Badgers led 28-10 with 6:16 left before halftime.
Purdue put together a long drive just before halftime, ending in Justin Siller's 2-yard touchdown run to cut the Badgers' lead to 35-17. But Wisconsin drove for a late 52-yard field goal by Philip Welch and took a 38-17 lead into half.
Purdue (4-4) at Wisconsin (6-2) Nov. 5, 3:30, ABC/ESPN2/ESPN3
Here’s The Deal … Wisconsin, if it’s a close game late in the fourth quarter, put all 11 defenders, and Bucky, in the end zone.
There but for the grace of a fluky Hail Mary from Michigan State and a stunning braincramp against Ohio State went the national title hopes. Even with two of the most heartbreaking back-to-back losses in college football history, Wisconsin is still probably the best team in the Big Ten and it’s still in the thick of the Big Ten title chase. By winning out against Purdue, at Minnesota, at Illinois, and Penn State, and getting a Penn State loss to Nebraska or Ohio State, and getting one more Ohio State loss – all of which is more possible than it might appear – the Badgers will win the Leaders and will play in the inaugural Big Ten title. First, they have to get their mojo back.
Purdue shocked Illinois a few weeks ago, played well in a loss to Penn State, and took an early lead against Michigan, but the defense couldn’t handle the Wolverine rushing attack and the offense couldn’t keep up the pace. While this has been an inconsistent year on both sides of the ball, the one thing that’s held up has been the pattern of alternating between wins and losses, going win-loss-win-loss over the course of the first eight games. If form holds, the Boilermakers will pull off the upset.
It might take just that kind of quirk, and a dead performance from Wisconsin, to come up with the shocker, but Purdue has a little bit of pop on offense and always brings the effort. It might also take the return of Drew Brees.
Wisconsin has won the last five matchups between the two, with blowouts in the last four, but there was a time a decade ago when this was among the most exciting yearly matchups in college football, with the five games from 1998 to 2004 all decided by a touchdown or less in some sort of dramatic fashion.
It would be just fine with Wisconsin if this year’s game didn’t come down to the final minute.
Why Purdue Might Win: Where’s Wisconsin’s head at? The Badgers came into the Ohio State game ready to make a statement after the Michigan State loss, and they were clobbered on the lines, unfocused, and couldn’t tackle. Yeah, the Big Ten title is still on the table, but it’s been a rough two weeks for a team that’s gone through two of the most soul-crushing losses possible. The Purdue offense doesn’t give the ball away all that often and offense has just enough pop at times to throw a scare into the Badgers, and if it doesn’t screw up and it plays a tight, efficient game, the offense could keep up the pace.
The Boilermakers have a big advantage in the punting game, thanks to the continued excellent of Cody Webster. Purdue is first in the Big Ten and eighth in the nation in punting, averaging 40.82 yards per try, while Wisconsin has been a hot mess over the last two weeks getting two key punts blocked to now average just 34.23 yards per try.
Why Wisconsin Might Win: As long as the Badgers can quickly ignore the last two weeks, at least for three hours, they should be able to steamroll over a disappointing Purdue defensive front. The UW front five was dominated by Ohio State and ran for just 89 yards, but Montee Ball averaged five yards per carry, and the ground game rumbled for 220 yards against Michigan State. The Badger offensive line has been called out over the last two weeks, and it should come up with a dominant performance against a Purdue run defense that was eaten alive by Michigan and gave up 131 yards to Penn State’s Silas Redd.
Purdue doesn’t have a pass rush, and while that hasn’t been a problem so far against most teams, it was a huge issue against Notre Dame, with Tommy Rees having ten days to throw and coming up with 254 yards and three touchdowns. Russell Wilson has been off the last two weeks, at least until the final few minutes, but he should find his passing touch once again. Even with the problem against the Spartans and Buckeyes, the Badgers are still second in the nation in passing efficiency.
What To Watch Out For: What happened to Nick Toon? The Badger senior receiver was banged up with a foot problem, missing the Indiana game, and he didn’t show the same burst and he didn’t get the needed separation against the Spartan and Buckeye secondary. Toon is supposed to be a good pro prospect with the size, the hands, and the talent to come up with a long NFL career, but after catching six touchdown passes over a four-game stretch, he needs to become a dangerous all-around weapon again.
Part safety, part weakside linebacker, Purdue’s Joe Holland uses his speed and athleticism to get in on tackles after tackles. After coming up with 24 tackles in the first two games, he missed a few too many plays and didn’t do enough against the run. That changed over the last two weeks, making 11 stops against Illinois and ten tackles against Michigan. While only 6-1 and 225 pounds, the senior is smart, moves well, and is always around the ball. Against the Badger running game he should come up with another double-digit stop game. He made eight tackles in last year’s loss.
What Will Happen: Welcome back, Wisconsin. Purdue will hang around for a littlee while, and then the Badger ground attack will take over and everything will be back to normal. Like the Michigan game, Purdue will get its doors blown off after the first quarter.
CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 41 … Purdue 14
Click For Latest Line From ATS: Wisconsin -25.5 O/U: 57
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