Play of the Game
T.J. Watt’s interception not only was a play of the year candidate, it completely swung the momentum to Wisconsin’s favor.
With UW going ahead 7-3 and Purdue’s first offensive play after the go-ahead score, Watt effectively ensured the running back heading toward the flat was accounted for, then climbed up the ladder to pressure Purdue quarterback David Blough on a bootleg.
Catching his own deflection of Blough’s pass, it was simply a matter of outrunning the signal caller to extend Wisconsin’s lead.
That ball security, though. [Shocked face emoji]
Honorable mention: Leo Musso’s one-handed interception; Dare Ogunbowale’s two screen passes on Wisconsin’s first scoring drive.
Bart Houston: He led four consecutive scoring drives for the offense and provided a much-needed shot in the arm for the Wisconsin offense in the second quarter. The redshirt senior finished the game 5-of-6 for 102 yards and the 19-yard touchdown pass to Alec Ingold, along with those two screen passes to Ogunbowale that were beautifully set up and executed. Out of some new personnel, Houston displayed a mobility not seen since his triple-option days at De La Salle High School in California. Head coach Paul Chryst joked after the game that Houston’s high school offense ran “the four letter word” (the veer offense, infamously run by Don Morton at Wisconsin from 1987-89).
It’s been a topsy, turvy senior season—and, well, career, for that matter—for Houston in Madison. Both he and redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook played well (and turnover-free) on Saturday, and both will be depended upon to guide the offense.
T.J. Edwards: The redshirt sophomore only recorded three tackles (Wisconsin’s leading tackler, Natrell Jamerson, had only five on the day) but the pressure Edwards put on the Purdue offense led to big plays. In the second quarter, he was sent on a blitz and got his hands up in quarterback David Blough’s passing lane, deflecting the ball into the air. He eventually came down with it, and a play later, Houston found Ingold for the touchdown pass and a 28-3 lead.
In the third quarter, his sack on third down stopped Purdue’s offense and forced the Boilermakers to punt.
All the accolades have gone to outside linebackers Watt and Vince Biegel, along with the now-injured Jack Cichy, but Edwards quietly has put together another solid season (64 tackles heading into the Minnesota game, leading the Badgers for the second consecutive year) and will be one of the cornerstones of the defense for the next couple of years.
Alec Ingold: Not even a season removed from being a tailback, Ingold showed his multi-faceted impact at fullback in recording a goal-line rushing touchdown, converting third and fourth-down opportunities on the ground, reeling in that touchdown pass and being a lead-blocking back on Wisconsin’s last touchdown by senior Corey Clement.
Ingold’s versatility in short-yardage situations has been highly effective (as it was with the injured Austin Ramesh) and he’s showing he has the potential to be a threat out of the backfield like former UW fullbacks Derek Watt and Bradie Ewing before him.
Honorable mention: Left guard Micah Kapoi; running back Bradrick Shaw; outside linebacker T.J. Watt
- For the first time since 2011 (a 45-7 win over Penn State and a 42-39 victory over Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game), Wisconsin scored 40-plus points in consecutive games against Big Ten opponents.
- Wisconsin won its 11th straight meeting against Purdue. That’s the longest win streak by either team in the history of their matchups.
- On top of that, Wisconsin won for a seventh-straight time in West Lafayette at Ross-Ade Stadium. That win streak on the road dates back to the 1999 season.
- Watt's 17-yard pick-six was the Badgers' first interception return for a touchdown since the 2012 Big Ten championship game, when cornerback Marcus Cromartie took a pass back 29 yards for a stunning score (#WisconsinJustScoredAgain).
- UW has recorded 17 interceptions during the 2016 season, the most for the program since recording 22 picks in 2002. Who led the nation in interceptions that year with 11 individually? Wisconsin’s current defensive backs coach, Jim Leonhard, in his breakout sophomore campaign.
What to Watch for This Week
College Football Playoff rankings: Louisville lost, so you can assume Wisconsin will move up one spot to No. 6. Next weekend could be the major mover, however depending upon the outcome of the following rivalry games: Michigan-Ohio State in The Game, Washington-Washington State in the Apple Cup and heck, even Auburn-Alabama (ehh, doubt it, even with a Tide loss) and South Carolina-Clemson (maybe, but probably not with the Gamecocks 6-5 in Will Muschamp’s first season).
All eyes on Columbus on Saturday. In the game that will, in all likelihood, shape the Big Ten East, Ohio State hosts Michigan at Ohio Stadium. If the Wolverines win, they’re going to Indianapolis as division champs. If the Buckeyes win, Penn State gets the nod if it takes care of Michigan State. If the Nittany Lions don’t secure the win over the Spartans, Urban Meyer and co., will face the Big Ten West division champs.
My physical state on Friday after playing in a Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving morning. I was invited to play in an annual tradition with some of my old friends this upcoming Thursday morning back at the high school I attended my senior year. I’m not that spry spring chicken I used to be, so we’ll see what lies ahead for this game of intestinal fortitude. Currently, I’m probable on the injury list with a lower-back ailment and possible dad duty with our three boys.
Personally, I’ll be asking Ogunbowale this week how to establish that first-cut step, stocking up on Gatorade and Aleve for the ride home, then ensuring I pass out from the enormous amounts of turkey, stuffing (yeah I know it’s also called dressing... let’s not start this) and mashed potatoes for the meal thereafter.