On a rainy, cruddy day in Madison, the Wisconsin Badgers jumped out early on the Purdue Boilermakers, coasting to a 17–6 halftime lead. Jonathan Taylor had 12 carries for 149 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown on the Badgers’ first drive of the game. Wisconsin totaled 286 yards of total offense in the first half, gouging Purdue for gains at will.
However, mistakes plagued the Badgers’ execution and kept the Boilers within striking distance. To start the second half, Wisconsin stopped Purdue before embarking on a lengthy drive that ultimately ended up in an interception off of the hands of Badgers running back Rachid Ibrahim. Purdue answered with a field goal on a short field, cutting the lead to eight points.
Wisconsin then drove down to inside the Purdue 5-yard line before Taylor fumbled the ball away to the Boilers. The Badgers held them scoreless in the fourth quarter, with a Leon Jacobs interception leading to Wisconsin’s final drive, which consumed almost the rest of the game. Wisconsin won by a final of 17–9.
Here are three things we learned:
1. Jonathan Taylor: Still good
Taylor nearly became the first Big Ten back to rush for 1,000 yards in his first six games, as he ended with over 200 yards for the third time in 2017 and the second game in a row. Taylor provides the Badgers’ offense with play-making ability that the 2015 and 2016 units simply didn’t possess. He’s a special player, and it’s looking as though the Badgers will go as far as he will carry them. Taylor will need 15 yards next week vs. Maryland to eclipse 1,000 yards for the season.
2. Purdue: Actually not bad
The Boilermakers are clearly playing more inspired for Jeff Brohm than they ever did under their previous head coach. Purdue has a group of big, good linebackers, and its defense bends but doesn’t break. Offensively, they still don’t have the pieces to scare this Wisconsin defense, but they’re on the up and up.
Purdue forced three Wisconsin turnovers and was in the game nearly the entire time despite its offense not crossing 200 yards gained until the fourth quarter.
3. Leon Jacobs is emerging
The former outside linebacker-turned-inside linebacker-turned fullback-turned inside linebacker-turned outside linebacker has become a force for Wisconsin on the edge of the Badgers’ 3-4 defense. Quickly establishing himself as one of the better defenders on the team, he could end up as a sleeper NFL Draft prospect that goes in the third or fourth rounds.
Jacobs is the team’s most dangerous pass rusher and has shown the ability to play in coverage and in space. He’s able to play multiple spots in Jim Leonhard’s multiple-scheme defense. Actually good.