Fifth Quarter Consensus: Badgers steamroll over Boilermakers

The Predictions

Adam Tupitza (7-1, +142): Wisconsin 34, Purdue 17

Jake Harris (6-2, +117): Wisconsin 31, Purdue 3

John Veldhuis (6-2, +143): Wisconsin 35, Purdue 14

Adam Hoge (5-3, +143): Wisconsin 41, Purdue 13

The Reasoning

While the bye week was torturous for Badger fans who can't see enough of the gritty and offensively dominant team that just put together one of the best two-week stretches in program history, the open date could not have come at a better time for the team itself. You'll recall that one of the things that made Wisconsin's come-from-behind win at Iowa so impressive last month was the way the Badgers got it done without so many of their banged-up starters. Those key contributors desperately needed some time off to get healthy again.

While backup running back James White and starting tight end Lance Kendricks are still expected to be held out, don't worry about the offense's ability to score on a Purdue defense that has given up 93 points combined in its last two games. Wisconsin is 13th in the nation in rushing and ran for 142 yards on the Hawkeyes' vaunted run defense, despite the absence of White for most of the game. Montee Ball has proven himself a capable replacement behind starter John Clay and is a receiving threat out of the backfield.

Purdue, meanwhile, has had a difficult time scoring as a promising start to the season has been derailed by injuries. The Boilermakers' quarterback will be freshman Sean Robinson, who will make his first career start under center. The situation is dire for a team that lost starter Robert Marve to a season-ending knee injury, third-stringer Rob Henry to a cut on his index finger and backup Caleb TerBush to academic ineligibility. Tailback Ralph Bolden and receivers Keith Smith and O.J. Ross are also out with injuries.

Wisconsin has been strong coming off of bye weeks under head coach Bret Bielema, beating both Purdue and Hawaii handily under such circumstances a season ago. The Badgers have an opportunity to play truly meaningful games this November with a share of the Big Ten championship and a berth in a BCS bowl game on the line. We don't expect this veteran team to slip up against manageable competition down the stretch, but if it does, it's not happening in West Lafayette this Saturday.

Who has the edge?

Offense: Wisconsin

Defense: Wisconsin

Special Teams: Wisconsin

Coaching: Wisconsin

Intangibles: Wisconsin

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