It wasn’t pretty for the first 15 minutes, but a strong second quarter propelled the No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers to a convincing win in West Lafayette.
With five consecutive scoring drives and 14 points off of turnovers, the Badgers defeated the Purdue Boilermakers 49-20 at Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday.
Purdue (3-8, 1-7) started out on an impressive first offensive drive, gaining 55 yards on 15 plays that ended with a J.D. Dellinger 28-yard field goal and a 3-0 Boilermaker lead. The Boilermakers looked solid early, out-gaining the Badgers 94-38 in yards, and stymied Wisconsin’s ground game with five tackles for loss in that opening period.
The Badgers (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten), however, exploded in the second quarter.
Three turnovers in the second quarter allowed UW to bust the doors wide open. After fullback Alec Ingold’s one-yard touchdown run to give Wisconsin a 7-3 lead, redshirt junior T.J. Watt tipped and intercepted a David Blough pass and took it 17 yards for a pick-six.
After a three-and-out by the Wisconsin defense, the Badgers drove 54 yards in eight plays, ending with Bradrick Shaw’s seven-yard touchdown run.
Inside linebacker T.J. Edwards then took a page out of Watt’s playbook and picked off his own pass deflection. One play later, redshirt senior Bart Houston connected with Ingold through the air for a 19-yard touchdown to make it 28-3.
Wisconsin would score on five consecutive drives in that frame, with Shaw taking a handoff and galloping 33 yards for his second score of the game and a 35-10 lead. The redshirt freshman finished with 68 yards on six carries and those two touchdowns.
Leo Musso’s interception on Purdue’s final offensive drive of the first half thwarted a potential scoring opportunity.
Against one of the worst defenses in the nation against the run, the Badgers rolled up 221 yards on the ground. Senior running back Corey Clement rushed for 112 yards on 27 yards and a touchdown.
Through the air, Houston and redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook combined for 12-for-15 and 191 yards, showing a balanced offensive attack for the first time since the Iowa game on Oct. 22. Along with Houston’s touchdown pass, Hornibrook found wide receiver Jazz Peavy for a 25-yard touchdown.
Wisconsin’s defense held its own and dominated the second half after a sloppy first half in which it gave up 200 yards and two long completions of 48 and 75 yards. Justin Wilcox’s squad held Purdue to 93 yards in the final two quarters and 3-of-10 third-down conversions overall.
UW did give up a late 10-yard touchdown pass from Blough to senior wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey late in the fourth quarter against the second-team defense. It was the duo’s second scoring connection of the afternoon after its 75-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Blough finished with 14-of-30 for 206 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, with Yancey catching six passes for 155 yards.
The Badgers can clinch the Big Ten West division title with a win over rival Minnesota next Saturday.