A Big Ten West Championship, Big Ten Championship and appearance in the College Football Playoff all appear in the distance for the no. 7 Wisconsin Badgers football team. Before that distance can be reached, head coach Paul Chryst and his Badgers must take care of business this Saturday against the Purdue Boilermakers. Action will kick off at 11am Central, from Ross-Ade Stadium.
While the Badgers are aiming for the pinnacle of college football, the Boilermakers are on the other side of the coin; they sit at 3-7 overall and in last place in the Big Ten West Division. They’ve dropped five games in a row, the last four of which have been coached by interim head coach Gerad Parker. Parker took over head coaching duties this season after Darrell Hazell was relieved of his duties on October 16.
Though this is the first meeting between the two head coaches, it’s far from the first between these two programs. Wisconsin leads the all-time series (46-29-8) that has produced a few memories. In 1998, quarterback Drew Brees set then-NCAA records for completions (55) and attempts (83), but the Badgers made plays when it counted to pull out a 31-24 win at Camp Randall Stadium. That game was highlighted by cornerback Jamar Fletcher’s pick-six off Brees in the third that was followed shortly by the invention of Jump Around as we know it. In 2004, the no. 5 Boilermakers seemingly had a victory over the no. 10 Badgers locked up before a “cataclysmic turn of events” led to a 20-17 Wisconsin victory at Ross-Ade Stadium. Wisconsin owns a 10-game winning streak in the series, dating back to that 2004 thriller.
When and where is the game?
It’s Senior Day in West Lafayette, IN as the game kicks off at 11am Central from Ross-Ade Stadium.
How can I watch?
ABC will broadcast the game with Mike Patrick on the call, Ed Cunningham as the analyst and Dr. Jerry Punch on the sidelines.
How can I stream the game online?
Via WatchESPN.com or the WatchESPN mobile app on iOS or Android.
How can I listen to it on the radio?
On the Badgers Sports Network, where you’ll find the usual of team of Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas, Mark Tauscher and Patrick Herb. On satellite radio, you’ll find the broadcast on Sirius 84 / XM 84. Otherwise, head to BadgerSportsNetwork.com to find it. You can also listen on iHeartRadio (iOS/Android/online) by searching WIBA.
What can I expect to see?
Wisconsin (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten; Depth Chart)
Last week: 48-3 win vs. Illinois
Polls: No. 7 in College Football Playoff Rankings (last week: #7)
Head coach: Paul Chryst, second season at Wisconsin (18-5)
Purdue (3-7, 1-6 Big Ten; Depth Chart)
Last week: 45-17 loss vs. Northwestern
Polls: Not Ranked
Head coach: Gerad Parker, 1st season at Purdue (0-4)
When Purdue has the ball:
The Boilermakers pass when they’re winning, pass when they’re losing and pass when they’re tied. Throwing the ball over 48 times per game, Purdue leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game with 309.2. Slinging the ball is sophomore quarterback David Blough, who leads the conference in passing yards and ranks second in the conference with 21 touchdowns. However, his 16 interceptions also lead the conference.
Blough spreads the around to his receivers (six players with 29+ catches, five with 300+ yards), but one stands out above the rest: senior DeAngelo Yancey. Yancey averages 30-more yards per game than Purdue’s next receiver, and has totaled 37 catches for 718 yards. His seven touchdowns are tied for second in the Big Ten.
On the opposite end of those passing numbers is the running game. Travis Miller from Hammer & Rails gave us some insight on the running game earlier in the week, citing backfield injuries and inconsistent offensive line play as the reason Purdue ranks 124th of 128 NCAA teams in rushing. When the Boilermakers do run the ball, they typically hand it to running back Markell Jones. Jones entered 2016 on the watch list for the Doak Walker Award after running for 875 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015. The season hasn’t gone as planned for the sophomore – he’s rushed for just 61.2 yards per game and three touchdowns and a long rush of 23. On a per carry basis, Jones gains 4.5 yards but Purdue only averages 3.4 per carry as a whole.
Wisconsin should be near full strength defensively as only outside linebacker Zach Baun is listed as out on the team’s injury report, aside from the season-long injuries to Jack Cichy and Chris Orr. Quite frankly, they should face little resistance from Purdue’s running attack (see above) but could face some pressure from their spread passing attack. Blough ranks 12th in the Big Ten in yards per pass attempt (6.61 yards), so the pass rush could be somewhat negated. The Badgers secondary will need to be on their game and take advantage of inaccurate throws for the second straight week – Blough tossed three interceptions last weekend while the Badgers’ defense tallied a season-high four picks.
When Wisconsin has the ball:
The Badgers offense looked like the Badgers offense last week as they ran the ball 64 times for 363 yards and controlled the ball for 42 of 60 minutes. Decreased competition certainly helped as they faced an Illinois team that entered the game ranked no better than 10th in points, total yards, rushing yards or passing yards allowed per game in the Big Ten. On paper, things get even better for Wisconsin this weekend. Purdue ranks last in the Big Ten in points and total yards allowed and 2nd to last in rushing yards allowed. If they need to throw (they only needed 14 passes last weekend), Purdue ranks 11th in the conference in defending that. The Badgers should be able to control the ball and pound it on the ground against the Boilermakers.
On the injury front offensively, fullback Austin Ramesh is listed as questionable once again while right tackle Jacob Maxwell will miss another game.
There are some major areas of concern for Purdue defensively, several of which were highlighted above. The issues do not stop there – Purdue ranks last in the Big Ten Conference in 3rd down defense, 4th down defense. They’ve given up a ton of yards and cannot seem to get off the field.
Statistically speaking, the defense is led by redshirt freshman Markus Bailey. The outside linebacker has totaled 80 tackles (four for loss) and two interceptions; both stats lead the team. Junior linebacker Ja’whaun Bentley missed last week’s game with injury. Despite playing only 8 of the team’s games, Bentley has totaled six tackles for loss on the season.
Up front, defensive tackle Jake Repogle was named by Travis Miller as a key player, though he has missed time as well. Repogle has played in six games and totaled four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He and Bentley’s statuses are both in question for Saturday, but defensive lineman Evan Panfil should be in action. Panfil is a senior who leads the team in tackles for loss (11) and sacks (five).
Freshman J.D. Dellinger handles kicks and kickoffs for Purdue. He has made seven of 11 kicks on the season with a long of 42 yards. One of those seven makes was the game-winner against Illinois, a 28-yard kick that gave the Boilermakers their only Big Ten win of 2016. On a net average basis, Dellinger’s kick coverage unit ranks second-to-last in the conference. Dellinger’s punting counterpart, sophomore Joe Schopper, ranks fourth in the conference with a 41.5-yard average. He’s had four punts of 50+ yards and 22 punts land inside the 20-yard line.
Purdue’s punt and kick return units rank 5th and 9th respectively in yards per return. Wide receivers Malik Kimbrough and Bilal Marshall have both returned punts, while Kimbrough and freshman running back Brian Lankford-Johnson handle kickoffs.