Purdue vs. Wisconsin preview: A good chance to lick their wounds

Michael Hickey

The return to Madison this week should equal a return to previous form.

This is the perfect spot for a trap game. The Badgers are wounded after all that in Tempe, and they have Ohio State next week. Purdue's going to come up and give us a game, right?

In theory, the Boilermakers do have a good defensive line, as they are 31st against the run and they have seven sacks on the season already. Akeem Hunt is an all-purpose weapon that is absolutely integral to how their offense works. But that being said, this doesn't feel like a trap game to me.

For one, their quality defensive stats are inflated by a spectacular defensive performance against Indiana State. Five of their seven sacks, and the 21-carry, 39-yard performance from Indiana State's rushing game is a part of the reason why Purdue's front line is getting a little too much credit. That's not to say Melvin Gordon is going to threaten 200-plus yards on 13 carries, but it's only to say that there are going to be openings. James White's going to have a solid-to-good game, and I see no reason Melvin Gordon won't get first downs per touch.

Purdue's passing defense is inconsistent. It opened the year with a pretty strong performance against a good passing game in Cincinnati, shutting down the immortal Munchie Legeaux. Indiana State's Mike Perish had a decent outing considering how his offensive line performed in week two, and Notre Dame's Tommy Rees picked them apart week three. Maybe the Boilermakers missed safety Landon Feichter in week three, but there's definitely a chance for Joel Stave to get the passing game going again when it's needed to pass. In fact, I'll call it for another Jared Abbrederis touchdown.

Offensively? Purdue's had some issues. In fact, this is why I feel confident that this isn't going to be so much of a trap game. Purdue hasn't faced a run defense near as strong as Wisconsin's, and Hunt's averaged 2.26 yards per carry against FBS opponents. As a team? Purdue's at 2.4 yards per carry. Wisconsin may be able to get a time share in Purdue's backfield when it runs.

And when the Boilermakers pass? There are more issues. The receivers are inexperienced, B.J. Knauf is a great athlete and Shane Mikesky is a tall target. But when your're running back is leading the team in receptions (Hunt with 12), you're gonna have a bad time. There's a reason why the Boilermakers are currently 118th in total offense. They need to rebuild. And the Badgers aren't going to help their cause.

When you add the fact that Paul Griggs is currently .500 on field goals, you can see why I'm feeling good about the Badgers' chances. They can run a lot, pass a little and shut Purdue's offense down and potentially out. I don't think this is going to be a game that's as close to perfection as the Tennessee Tech game was.

But Purdue's going to have to show something previously unseen this year if it's going to turn this into a trap game.

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