The Badgers’ 24-7 victory over Purdue started as a textbook example of Badgers football: slow, steady, conservative and successful. Throughout Wisconsin’s victory, the Badgers dominated Purdue in nearly every single category, more than doubling their offensive production and securing over 37 minutes of possession. Still, lead by their defensive toughness and the resulting field position, the Badgers would eventually pull away in the final seconds of the third quarter.

Click here for our photos from the game.

The Badgers opened their third Big Ten matchup with swift assertiveness, as they marched 81 yards down the field and converted twice on third down. Stave started the game with confidence and poise, going two for two, which included a 20 yard third down completion early in the drive. The Badgers focused on establishing Dare Ogunbowale in the beginning of the drive, as he carried the ball four times and caught one pass within the first seven plays of the game. Despite the commitment to the running game, the Badgers found little success with Dare on the ground. Coming off a career best 117-yard performance, Ogunbowale was limited to 56 yards on the day. 

The drive ended with a dominating burst by the Badgers’ offensive line, who opened up the gap for Alec Ingold to walk four yards into the endzone. It would be Alec Ingold’s first of two touchdowns, who put up numbers similar to John Kuhn: nine carries, nineteen yards, and a pair of hard-fought touchdowns.

The Badgers’ defense entered today’s game as the 5th ranked defense in Division 1 (in points per game allowed), and looked poised to continue their domination at home from Purdue’s first possession. The Boilermakers ran three consecutive plays and quickly went three and out. Three different Badgers recorded tackles on the drive, including TJ Edwards’ first of 16 tackles. Despite his statistical domination, Edwards downplayed his performance, attributing his success to the strength of the entire linebacker unit.

Following a 37-yard punt, the Badgers offense was churning. Several consecutive runs by Dare Ogunbawale outside the tackles lead Wisconsin’s offense into the redzone. The Badgers, who entered the game as 23-point favorites, seemed on the cusp of another dominating performance. When favored by twenty or more point this year, Wisconsin had outscored opponents 114-3. A couple laps in execution would quickly complicate the game.

Within an instant, Badgers fans were reminded of Wisconsin’s difficulties throughout the 2015 season upon entering the redzone. Stave threw his first (and arguably only) poor pass of the game, an unbalanced attempt that overshot his intended target by several feet, and was returned 63 yards to the Badger’s 29 yard line. In his post-game interview, Stave mentioned that he hit his thumb on the side of his helmet during his follow through. 

Purdue capitalized on Stave’s error in execution, and solidified their momentum with a gutsy play calling. A fourth down conversion helped Purdue tie the game at seven. To this point, the Boilermakers had run eleven of twelve plays, including the play action quarterback keeper that solidified the Boilermaker’s drive.

The rest of the quarter was defined by the Badger’s statistical domination, yet only translated into a 3-0 advantage. Following an 11-play drive, that helped Stave’s rebuild his confidence, the Badgers stalled once again inside the redzone. It was a 15-yard penalty on first and ten that inhibited the Badger’s slow and steady approach. Offensive penalties would continue to be a theme for Wisconsin throughout the game.

The Badgers’ final drive of the quarter was defined by success in the passing game, highlighted by a 28-yard reception for Troy Fumagalli on a crossing route over the middle of the field. The Badger’s questionable clock management (they didn’t take a timeout until under 40 seconds left in the half) forced the Badgers to attempt another short range field goal. This time, the sporadic Gaglianone, who barely secured the Badger’s victory last week in Nebraska, had his 35-yard attempt blocked. 

By all accounts, the story of the first half was straightforward: statistical domination that failed to translate into a substantial advantage on the scoreboard. The Badgers finished the first half with more than twice Purdue’s possession, and more than four times as many offensive yards, yet only lead the Boilermakers by a field goal entering the third quarter.

The Badgers’ run defense continued to shine in the second half, as Purdue’s offense was consistently stifled on each of its first two possessions. Purdue started the half with 11 plays for 17 total yards. 

The Badger’s third drive of the quarter gave Wisconsin their best field position of the day, which started at Purdue’s 33-yard line after wobbly punt from within Purdue’s end zone. Stave had his best drive of the game, stringing together three consecutive passes for 30 yards in the middle of the drive and Dare Ogunbowale rumbled into the endzone for his first touchdown of the game. Just as time expired in the fourth quarter, the Badge’s took a 17-7 lead, straight into the earthshaking Jump Around. Over 80,000 fans were in attendance for this year’s homecoming game. 

The fourth quarter featured more of the same: stifling defense and well-executed offense. Following a successful crossing route that lead Purdue near to midfield, Edwards punched the ball out of the receiver’s hands, solidifying his status as the game’s MVP. The Badgers took over the ball inside Purdue’s half of the field, and within a few minutes, Ingold once again found his way into the end zone.

Game Notes

Despite Corey Clement’s surprise decision to suit up for today’s game, the Badgers running back did not enter today’s game at any point. In the post game press conference, Coach Chryst did not set a timeline for Clement’s return. The running game was instead lead by Dare Ogunbowale, as Taiwan Deal was sidelined this week. Still, it was Stave’s bounce back that ensured Wisconsin’s offense could capitalize on the offense’s incredible performance.

Despite a single costly error early on, Stave had one of his best performances of the year against a Purdue defensive unit that held Michigan State to three points in the second half while on the road. Considering Purdue’s only offensive success immediately followed Stave’s misthrow, the Wisconsin quarterback fought back with surprising confidence, precise passes and great decision making. Stave finished with over 300 yards passing and a 77% completion percentage (30 of 39).

Edwards’s 16 tackles more than doubled the tackles of every single Badger. His forced-fumble would end up sealing the game, quickly quieting Purdue’s passing game that had just started to click. Edwards ended with seven solo tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, and the forced fumble.

Going forward, the Badgers’ future outlook is looking dim. Needing Iowa to lose a pair of Big Ten games before the end of the season, the Badgers’ probability of advancing to Big Ten Championship took a huge blow as a result of Iowa’s convincing 30-point victory in Northwestern. Coach Chryst would insist that the Badgers were only focused on improving themselves.

The Badgers will play on the road at Illinois next Saturday, October 24 at 2:30 PM CT.