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Wisconsin Football: Three Things We Learned Against Purdue

What did we take from Saturday’s win against the Boilermakers?

Purdue v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

It’s crazy to think after everything this season has and hasn’t produced that there’s still a chance the Badgers could end up in the Big Ten Championship game following a homecoming 35–17 victory to knock the Boilermakers off track. Sorry, Devin Mockobee I don’t care what the referee said you got stuffed. No touchdown. Anyway, Leonard not only won his home debut game on what was Wisconsin’s homecoming but now has a winning record three games in at 2-1. Should be 3-0, I don’t know how they blew that Michigan State game but it feels good to get a W after last week’s second-half meltdown. Let’s see what else we learned.

Purdue v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

We still don’t know who Mertz is

It wasn’t his worst game ever, but it wasn’t nearly close to his best either. However, no interceptions and two touchdowns are still something to be proud of as a Wisconsin quarterback. His Total yards, 1,630, and QBR, 63.0, are right in the middle as far as number rankings go for all of college football. We’ve seen games where he throws five touchdowns and others where he throws for more interceptions than TDs. It should be noted that Saturday marked Mertz's ninth consecutive game having thrown a TD.

The junior quarterback from Kansas threw for 203 yards on the day completing 13 of his 21 passes and finishing with a QBR of 84. Engram is helping the offense create space for Mertz’s targets but for some reason he hasn’t been able to find a groove to lock into so that he can deliver the goods on a regular basis. Thankfully the whole offense doesn’t run through our current QB.

Purdue v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Braelon Allen is running strong

Following Cryst’s termination, and his worst showing of the season, Allen consistently delivered through the ground game for the Badgers. The homecoming victory over Purdue marked his third consecutive game with over 100 yards rushing, his fifth of the season and 13th career 100-yard rushing performance. Allen ran with authority on Saturday finding more than his fair share of holes to break through for some big plays averaging just over 7 yards a carry.

He’s not often utilized in Wisconsin’s passing game but his lone 39-yard reception shows the potential yet to be unlocked with Engram being given more control and freedom to run the offense. If the offensive line can find ways to reel in their mistakes they could rack up more yards for Allen instead of so many penalties. There’s still a lot of season left but midway through his sophomore year Allen’s continued to produce impressive numbers compared to some of the greatest backs to every run for the Badgers. It’ll be exciting to see if he can carry this energy over through a bye week and into their next matchup vs Maryland.

Purdue v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Confusing defensive showings

The Badgers defense caused a lot of chaos for Boilermaker quarterback Aidan O’Connell. They tallied three interceptions including a pick-six. John Torchio scored the touchdown to kick things off and then picked off another. Over the last three games, the Badgers have forced seven

turnovers in the previous three games. And yet…They’re giving up an average of more than 350 yards a game in that same time. Like the offense, there’s been a slew of undisciplined penalties that have kept drives alive that turned into points. Especially last week versus Michigan State.

This year’s defense has slid back more than we realized it would following multiple years of consistent dominance under the leadership of Jim Leonard as head defensive coordinator. There’s no question that injuries have played a small role in this year’s slide. But we can’t allow teams to make second-half comebacks like we nearly saw yesterday and the one we saw last week in East Lansing. Let’s just start with cutting down the unnecessary penalties and see how much of a difference that can make.