Last week, the Wisconsin Badgers traveled to Penn State where the team was thoroughly dismantled by the Penn State Nittany Lions. In that game, the Badgers were outscored in three out of the four quarters as they fell by a score of 22-10. Now, the unranked Badgers are on the road again where the team will face off against the underrated Purdue Boilermakers. Wisconsin’s playoff and conference championship hopes are officially over so one has to wonder what exactly the Badgers have left to play for. As for Purdue, this season has been relatively average for the program as the team is currently 5-5. However, that means that Purdue will need to win one of its next two games in order to qualify for a bowl game so the Boilermakers definitely still have something to play for. It is also senior day for Purdue so look for the team to come out motivated in this one.
Wisconsin is entering this game after a disappointing loss to Penn State. The team failed to generate anything offensively as the Badgers only had a total of 269 yards. Although that number is decent, one has to factor in that 71 of those yards came on one play in the beginning of the first quarter. Wisconsin could not throw the ball against Penn State’s secondary and it will now have to hope that its passing game shows signs of life against Purdue this upcoming week.
Out of those 269 total yards last week, Jonathan Taylor rushed for 185 of them which brings his total on the season to 1,548 — the most in all of college football. Taylor has been remarkable this entire season and he was amazing once again last week. In addition to the yards, he also had a rushing touchdown and averaged 9.3 yards per carry. Now, he will get to feast on a below average rush defense in Purdue where he will most likely need to be on his game in order to carry Wisconsin to a victory.
One area of concern for the Badgers this entire season has been quarterback play. After starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook missed last week’s game due to a concussion, backup Jack Coan took all of the snaps behind center as he hoped to lead the Badgers to an impressive road win. Unfortunately, Coan was terrible and looked completely overwhelmed in Happy Valley. Coan went 9-20 for an embarrassing 60 passing yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. He also lost two fumbles, and his ball security is a serious concern if Hornibrook is not ready to play. Even if Hornibrook is healthy enough to play, he has also been extremely underwhelming this season. Regardless of who starts for Wisconsin at quarterback, the team cannot instill too much confidence in either candidate.
As for Purdue, Jeff Brohm’s second season as head coach has gone similarly to his first season with the program. After finishing last season 7-6, Purdue was expected to finish in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten which is exactly where the team is located now. The team started out 0-3 before rallying itself to reach the 5-5 record it has now. Last week, Purdue suffered an embarrassing 31 point loss to Minnesota and the team will quickly look to erase that game’s existence from memory this Saturday.
Purdue’s offense is led by senior quarterback David Blough whose arm strength has helped the team average over 31 points per game. This season, Blough has thrown for over 2,800 passing yards and 18 passing touchdowns while also contributing two rushing touchdowns. Throughout his college career, Blough has battled his turnover prone tendencies and it appears to have worked out this season as he has only thrown seven interceptions on the year. If Purdue is going to win this game, Blough will need to play well. With Wisconsin’s inexperienced secondary, Blough will definitely get opportunities to take some big shots downfield this Saturday.
For my prediction, I have to side with Purdue. Both teams have their flaws but Purdue has a significantly better quarterback and the team actually has something to play for. Wisconsin has been pretty bad on the road this season and Purdue tends to have a solid home crowd. I expect this game to be close but I think that Wisconsin’s offense will be unable to keep pace with Purdue’s aerial attack.
Prediction: Purdue 24, Wisconsin 17