On a blustery day in West Lafayette, the Wisconsin Badgers kept their hopes for a Big Ten West crown alive, walloping the Purdue Boilermakers 49-20.
Coming into the game, the Badgers led the nation in time of possession and they continued the trend, leading the home squad 38:27-21:33. This was the Badgers’ fifth victory in a row and the second in which they scored 48 or more.
Let’s look at the unit grades.
Purdue came into the game 122nd in the country against the run and the Badgers did them no favors to fix that ranking, racking up 221 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
After a slow start, the Badgers exploded in the second quarter for 35 points. Bart Houston and Bradrick Shaw came in early in the quarter and had an immediate impact with a 31-yard Shaw run and a pair of screen pass to Dare Ogunbowale leading to a 1-yard Alec Ingold touchdown. Houston stayed in for the rest of the quarter and continued to keep the offense rolling with a seven-yard Shaw touchdown run, a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ingold and a 33-yard Shaw scoring run to close out the first half.
ICYMI: The future is bright in the @BadgerFootball' backfield, thanks to @bradricks7. https://t.co/xMsQkL7Ur8— Wisconsin On BTN (@WisconsinOnBTN) November 19, 2016
Things slowed down a bit in the second half, but the Badgers still managed a 25-yard Hornibrook touchdown pass to Jazz Peavy and a six-yard Corey Clement run.
The offensive line has really come on of late and for the first time all year, the Badgers were able to consistently execute the screen pass, with Ogunbowale having several critical third-down conversions on the day. The quarterbacks continued their solid play management and did not have a turnover.
The Boilermakers came out sharp, moving the ball well on their first drive, leading to a field goal and hitting a big pass over the top during the second drive for a 48-yard gain. Things changed in second quarter; as has been the case for the past few games, the defense was opportunistic in pulling down three interceptions.
T.J. Watt had a Play of the Year-candidate interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter, plucking a David Blough pass out of sky after brilliantly reading a play-action roll-out. T.J. Edwards had a tip-lob interception toward the end of the second quarter that led to another score.
Concerningly, the big play over the top is still a problem for the secondary as Blough hit a 75-yard touchdown pass to DeAngelo Yancey late in the first half. Yancey ended up with 155 yards and two touchdowns on the day.
Special Teams: B+
Natrell Jamerson was up and down on kickoff returns, dropping (but recovering) his first opportunity but breaking off a 39-yard return later in the game. Jazz Peavy fumbled a punt in the third quarter.
Andrew Endicott did not have a field-goal attempt and connected on all his extra-point attempts. P.J. Rosowski continued to live up to his “Captain Touchback” nickname, sending six of eight kickoffs into the end zone.
Anthony Lotti had only three punts and shanked his first into the wind, giving the Boilermakers great field position, leading to three points.
This was a potential trap with the big rivalry game against Minnesota looming next week, but Wisconsin was prepared and focused despite a slow start. Chryst smartly rode Houston in the second quarter and it paid dividends as the Badgers’ offense looked much stronger with the senior. The over-the-top defense on long passes has got to get corrected before the Badgers play a team that can really make them pay for it.
The Badgers started slow, but aggressive execution in the second quarter put this one away. Aside from some sloppy handling of the football (four fumbles, only one lost) and Yancey’s big day, the Badgers took care of business. The victory did not feel as dominant as last week’s against Illinois, but it was thorough and the offense looks like it starting to find an identity.
Purdue Fans: F
Most left at halftime. I suppose I would have too.