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Wisconsin puts together uneven showing in win vs. Purdue

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With the amount the Badgers out-gained the Boilermakers, the margin of victory should’ve been much wider.

MADISON — All the stats showed the No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers should have won their Saturday afternoon match-up against the Purdue Boilermakers in dominating fashion.

Wisconsin out-gained Purdue in total yards 494–221. True freshman running back Jonathan Taylor ran for 219 yards on 30 carries with a touchdown. Yet the Boilermakers hung in until the end of the game due to some stingy play, as well as three turnovers and eight penalties by the Badgers.

In the end, Wisconsin held on for a 17–9 victory that keeps it undefeated at 6–0 (3–0 Big Ten).

The Badgers started off the scoring on its their series. On a 3rd-and-2, Taylor took the hand-off, followed by lineman Jon Dietzen and tight end Troy Fumagalli, and sprinted 67 yards for a touchdown to give UW a 7–0 lead with 13:35 remaining in the first quarter.

Along with the blocks by the offensive line, true freshman wide receiver Danny Davis came across for a nice block to neutralize a defender and help Taylor spring for a score.

After a three-and-out by Purdue, Wisconsin’s offense started off hot once again. A nine-play, 73-yard drive ended with quarterback Alex Hornibrook finding wide receiver Quintez Cephus for a 14-yard touchdown to give the Badgers a 14–0 lead. On that drive, Hornibrook completed all four of his passes for 63 yards and the score.

Purdue got on the board in the quarter after an 11-play, 56-yard drive that ended with a 36-yard field goal.

In the second quarter, the Boilermakers blocked Anthony Lotti’s punt, returning it to the Badgers’ 15-yard line. However, two sacks by Garret Dooley and Alec James halted Purdue’s momentum before a missed 42-yard field goal by J.D. Dellinger kept the Wisconsin’s advantage at 11 points.

Wisconsin’s offensive drive immediately after that stop yielded points on an eight-play, 47-yard series that culminated with a Rafael Gaglianone 46-yard field goal to make it a 17–3 lead with 2:38 left in the first half.

To end the half, Purdue drove 43 yards in 11 plays. A 49-yard field goal by Spencer Evans pulled the Boilermakers back within 11 points with a 17–6 deficit at halftime.

More importantly for the Badgers, inside linebacker T.J. Edwards was flagged for targeting on a 4th-and-6 completion to tight end Cole Herdman. The call was confirmed, and the redshirt junior was ejected from the game.

In the first half, Wisconsin out-gained Purdue 279–92 in total yards, with Taylor running for 149 yards on 12 carries.

During the second half, however, the Badgers were their own worst enemy.

After the offense drove 40 yards in 11 plays, Hornibrook threw an errant ball on an apparent screen pass. The ball wound up in defensive end Danny Ezechukwu’s hands, and he returned it 38 yards.

Hornibrook finished the game 13-of-18 for 199 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Wisconsin’s defense again had to hold, and it did. Dellinger converted a 40-yard field goal to make it 17–9.

The Badgers again pushed down the field, but a Taylor fumble near the Purdue five-yard line was recovered by the Boilermakers.

Purdue threatened yet again off of some fun plays, including a 31-yard tight end screen pass off of a flea-flicker to the Wisconsin 10-yard line. However, Leon Jacobs came up with a huge interception on 2nd-and-goal, nullifying any points scored on that drive.

The Boilermakers came into the game averaging over 400 yards a game, but only gained 221 on the afternoon. Quarterback Elijah Sindelar completed 13 of 29 passes for 155 yards.

From there, the Badgers ran out the remaining 8:14 left in the game. That included a look with redshirt freshman running back Garrett Groshek at quarterback out of the shotgun and Hornibrook spread out wide left. Groshek, a former prep quarterback, took the ball 18 yards on a 2nd-and-11 for a first down to continue the drive.

Wisconsin got down to the Purdue 8-yard line, and Taylor’s first-down run to the Boilermakers 6 with about 90 seconds left sealed the win.