UW's defense again stymied its offensive opponent, holding Purdue to seven points -- the fifth time this year the Badgers have held a team to 10 points or under.
The offense still looked uneven, amplified by injuries on the offensive line and the offensive backfield. Despite an underwhelming performance on the ground, redshirt senior quarterback Joel Stave passed for over 300 yards for the second consecutive week. The last time a Badgers quarterback achieved that? Back in 2011.
1. Mistakes on offense cost the Badgers valuable points that could have mattered against a better opponent. Wisconsin appeared in firm control in the first quarter at the Purdue 16-yard line, already up 7-0. A 12-play, 53-yard drive was wasted when Stave threw an errant pass after being pressured in the pocket and was intercepted by Leroy Clark. Purdue capitalized on the turnover with a 2-yard touchdown run by quarterback David Blough. That was at least a 10-point momentum swing that gave the Boilermakers hope and kept them in the game for the better part of three quarters.
The Badgers missed another opportunity at the end of the first half, when sophomore kicker Rafael Gaglianone's 35-yard attempt sailed wide left -- apparently due to a partial block attempt.
In total yardage, the Badgers dominated the Boilermakers 418-191. Yet those errors, including some procedural and delay-of-game penalties, held it to a one-score game until the end of the third quarter.
2. Wisconsin's passing game carried the offense despite Purdue's poor run defense. Stave and the passing game carried the Wisconsin offense despite Purdue giving up 215 rushing yards per game. The Boilermakers came into the game 110th in the nation against the run; the Badgers gained only 96 yards on the ground at a clip of 2.6 yards per carry. The UW offense did miss redshirt junior center Dan Voltz, who sat out with an arm injury, along with redshirt freshman running back Taiwan Deal (ankle). The former's injury led to Wisconsin starting its fifth different starting combination at offensive line.
Despite his interception in the first quarter, Stave led the offense and moved the chains. Wisconsin converted seven of 14 third-down attempts (with the help of a few pass interference penalties). Stave completed 30 of 39 passes (over 75 percent) for 322 yards while hitting seven different receivers. Two wide receivers in redshirt senior Alex Erickson and junior Rob Wheelwright reeled in nine and six catches, respectively. Redshirt sophomore Jazz Peavy also made some big plays and continued his progression during the 2015 season, hauling in receptions of 20 and 28 yards on each of Wisconsin's two scoring drives in the first half.
The running game accounted for all three of Wisconsin's touchdowns. True freshman and converted inside linebacker Alec Ingold scored two touchdowns, including a Herculean effort on his 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
3. T.J. Edwards and Wisconsin's defense shut down Purdue's beleaguered offense. Edwards led the defense in tackles with 16 tackles, including 1.5 for loss and a forced fumble. [Update: We corrected Edwards' tackles from 16.5 to 16. Apologies for the mistake.] He flew to the ball frequently. Fellow linebackers Chris Orr and Joe Schobert each recorded seven stops as well.
Purdue tried to establish the run, but gained only 55 yards of the ground. Ninety-three of the Boilermakers' 191 yards came after the Badgers' final touchdown, and Wisconsin held Purdue to 4-of-13 on third-down attempts.