When: Saturday, Oct. 17, 11a.m. CT
Where: Madison, WI; Camp Randall Stadium (80,321)
Radio: Badger Sports Network
Last Meeting: Wisconsin Win, 36-14 (Nov. 8, 2014)
All-Time Series: Wisconsin leads 45-29-8
1 Burning Question: Will There Be a Letdown After Late Game Comeback Win?
Some say be wary of the letdown after a big game or a big win over a rival. Wisconsin accomplished both of them and will come in to its Homecoming contest hoping to avoid just that. It doesn’t help that a lackluster Purdue team is coming to town either.
Wisconsin has won nine straight in this series, and it is hard not to think that this contest is all but over before the two teams even step on the field. Chryst would be real wise to put on the tape of the fourth quarter against Michigan State as a reminder to his team that on any given Saturday, any given Big Ten team can win — even Purdue. Yes, the Boilermakers didn’t beat the Spartans, but they came within a late score of that actually happening, and that should be enough to scare UW’s players in to knowing they’ll have to earn this victory.
Knowing Chryst, he won’t let his players think this will be a cakewalk, and if they had that mentality early on this week, practice the rest of it has likely been hell on them. So, while it may be time for watch for the old “trap game,” don’t expect the Badgers to take these Boilermakers lightly on Homecoming.
2 Key Stats:
— 3: That is the number of touchdowns Joel Stave needs to overtake John Stocco for 2nd place on UW’s career touchdown list. Yes, let that one soak in for a second…you’re likely No. 2 touchdown thrower in Wisconsin Badgers history is going to be Joel Stave. The question is, can he get that done against Purdue? Answer, it could really happen this week. Why? Well, Purdue has given up the second-most touchdowns passing in the Big Ten (10) and are 8th in passing defense (214.0 yards per game). Wisconsin comes in having scored nine touchdowns passing and are 4th in the Big Ten in passing offense (239.2 yards per game).
— No. 2: That is the national ranking of Wisconsin’s defense in scoring and total defense under Dave Aranda. Only one team is better in not allowing points and yards to opposing teams since Aranda came here way back in 2012. UW’s defense is giving up 17.3 points per game, while also giving up just 285.8 yards per game in the Aranda era. All of that with a complete transition year and a third year featuring all sorts of youth in the front seven. Not too shabby, huh?
3 Staff Predictions:
Andy: 42-17 Wisconsin (5-1 season record)
Nate: 28-13 Wisconsin (4-2 season record)
Sawyer: 27-21 Wisconsin (5-1 season record)
4 Players to Watch:
Chris Orr, ILB: The youngster has gained a level of trust from the coaching staff few expected so early in his career. Racking up 35 tackles, with 29 of the 35 coming in the last three games will have the effect. However, Orr didn’t really show up big last week, garnering only three tackles to his credit. Purdue likes to run the ball and test the middle of the field, and that means Orr needs to be big on the field and on the stat sheet when its all said and done. Getting to the quarterback is something he still is working on, and it shows as he’s got just one tackle for loss on the season.
Dare Ogunbowale, RB: It appears that redshirt freshman Taiwan Deal is going to miss another game with a high ankle sprain, and that means a backfield duo of Ogunbowale and true freshman Alec Ingold. While Ingold has shown a nice ability at times, there’s little doubt UW would like to be able to hand the rock more to Ogunbowale. He put up a season-high 117 yards last weekend against Nebraska, and that was a good start. If he can show consistency, and get over the 100-yard mark once again, then maybe the Badgers have something to work with on the ground after all.
Rafael Gaglianone, K: Few thought kicker would be a question mark coming in to the season, as Wisconsin fans rightly remember his late-game heroics in the Outback Bowl and his overall strong leg. That strength hasn’t gone away in his sophomore season, but the accuracy is completely gone (9 of 15 FGs). He missed two huge field goals last week, both of which would’ve made the final minute scramble UW pulled off completely unnecessary. Still, confidence has a funny way of correcting mistakes, and perhaps hitting the game-winner will be just what Gaglianone needs to get out of his slump.
Sojourn Shelton, CB: Wisconsin hasn’t been bad against the pass, but when it is getting beat, it is still likely to see No. 8 being the one missing the route, the pass or the man. Shelton has improved over last season, but he’s going to get tested in a very different way against a Purdue team that likes to use its short passing game to set up deep balls and a power run game as well. Shelton has to be a sure tackler on the edge or it could be a rough day for the junior cornerback.
5 Bold Prognostications (That May Or May Not Come True):
— Joel Stave Becomes No. 2 Career TD Passer in UW History: Folks, it is going to happen eventually and a lot of the Badger fan base will still think this guy sucks. Longevity certainly helps Stave in this case, but he’s also third in UW history in passing yards and the only stat he isn’t inside the top three in for career numbers at UW is completion percentage. That said, Purdue’s pass defense isn’t good, Wisconsin got it going when it needed to last weekend and have much more depth thanks to Jazz Peavy and
— Dare Ogunbowale Goes for Over 100 Yards Again: While we’re talking about history being made, why not talk about Ogunbowale making individual history by going for 100-plus yards in back-to-back games. After going for 117 yards on just 18 carries last weekend, the Badgers starter by default goes up against a Purdue defense that is dead last in the Big Ten in rush defense (215.2 yards per game).
— Sojourn Shelton Leads Team in Tackles: Bold indeed, but if there’s one thing I’ve picked up having had to watch Purdue (because none of the staff at talking10 should have to suffer like the Publisher should) this season, is that they love throwing the ball on the outside and short as well. That means the Badger cornerbacks are even more on an island than ever before, and it means Shelton will have to step up in that regard in a major way.
— David Blough is Pulled After 1st Quarter: The musical chairs at quarterback for Purdue looked to be over after redshirt freshman David Blough stepped up with a nice performance in his debut against Bowling Green. It appears that had far more to do with the garbage defense the Falcons put on the field than Blough’s ability. He’s come back to earth in Big Ten play, and it came to a head last week as Blough threw just one touchdown to three interceptions. Wisconsin makes life way too difficult for the youngster and they create turnovers early to make Hazell have to go back to the well at QB again.
— Alec Ingold Gets More TD’s Than Ogunbowale: As much as Dare is likely to get more on the yardage situation, Ingold is a perfect fit at running back in short yardage situations. Look for him to get the call in goal line situations and punch the ball in a few times, at least one more than Ogunbowale on the day. Call me a Bay Port homer if you want, but Ingold has showcased way more talent than the recruiting services believed was there, and it shows again this week.