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Wisconsin runs through Purdue, 38-14

Wisconsin represented the Leaders Division in last year’s inaugural Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis.

Purdue believed it would have a chance to do the same this season, especially with Ohio State and Penn State ineligible, but knew an important step in doing so was beating the Badgers.

The Boilers had their chance, Saturday, at home inside Ross-Ade Stadium, but Wisconsin proved it is not ready to relinquish its title as the division’s best just yet.

“We under performed as a football team,” said Purdue head coach Danny Hope.  “The odds of us competing for the Leaders division obviously diminished today.”

Wisconsin (5-2, 2-1) ruined homecoming in West Lafayette with a 38-14 blowout to extend its winning streak in the series to seven games.  Purdue (3-3, 0-2)has not beaten the Badgers since 2003 and has not beaten them at home since 1997.

“We left some regrets on the field this week,” said safety Landon Feichter, who led Purdue with 12-tackles. “We didn’t come out today and play like men.  Wisconsin ran all over us and that is not acceptable.”

A week after the Boilers allowed Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson to get his season back on track rushing for 235-yards, former Heisman finalist Montee Ball made up for his slow start in 2012 with three touchdowns and 251 yards on 29-carries.

His third score, which came on a three yard run in the fourth quarter, was the 72nd of Ball’s career, passing fellow Badger Ron Dayne for the most in Big Ten history.

“He’s probably one of the best in the country,” Purdue defensive end Ryan Russell said of Ball.  “Whether it’s (Denard) Robinson, or Montee Ball, or, we have (Ohio State quarterback) Braxton Miller coming up soon, you have to learn to stop the run.  That’s the number one thing of any defense; you have to stop the run.”

Wisconsin’s ground attack finished with 467 yards with James White adding to Ball’s big day with 16 carries, 131 yards, and a touchdown.

Purdue drew first blood, scoring 38 seconds into the game.

Akeem Hunt returned the opening kickoff 42 yards and on the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Caleb TerBush (7-16, 80 yds, INT) hit Antavian Edison (3 rec, 58 yds) on a 52-yard pass down to the one yard line.  The throw is the longest of TerBush’s career.

On the following play, the Purdue signal caller ran the ball into the end zone to give the Boilers an early 7-0 lead.

Wisconsin responded by marching its first possession 75 yards down the field in five plays, capping it off with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Joel Stave (12-21, 178, TD, INT) to Jacob Pederson (4 rec, 77 yards).

Ball scored his first touchdown in the second quarter on a three yard run to put the Badgers ahead 14-7 and Kyle French added a field goal to extend Wisconsin’s lead to 17-7 at halftime.

Two plays into the second half, Ball supplied the dagger, avoiding several would-be Purdue tacklers, and ran 67-yards for a touchdown.

“He’s a hard runner,” said Feichter.  “Conditions when it’s wet and slippery, it’s a little tougher, but there is still no excuses we need to bring him down a lot better than we did.”

After the first possession, Purdue’s offense went stagnant.  Both TerBush and Robert Marve struggled to consistently move the ball. The two quarterbacks combined to go 10-25 for 124 yards and an interception.  Wisconsin also got into the backfield for five sacks.

The Boilers had negative three yards rushing at halftime and finished with 128 for the game, most of which came on a meaningless 81-yard touchdown by Akeem Hunt late in the fourth quarter.

The Boilers followed a game against Michigan in which they went 1-of-11 on third down, with a 3-of-16 performance against the Badgers, who almost doubled Purdue’s time of possession (38:42 to 21:18).

“We’re going to have to perform a lot better at the quarterback position,” said Hope.  “We were not as exact with our passes, we didn’t catch the ball all that well, so we didn’t think we played up to our potential from the quarterback position, or the wide receiver position, and we didn’t protect the quarterback as well as we could have or should have.”

Purdue starts the Big Ten season 0-2 for the first time since 2009 and the upcoming schedule is not forgiving.  The Boilermakers travel to 8th ranked and undefeated Ohio State next weekend and play four of their next five games on the road.

“We’ve got to just keep pushing,” said cornerback Ricardo Allen.  “Ohio State is a really good team and we’ve got to go hard, we’ve got to come out with our all.  We have to play, we’ve got to do something.  We have to come up with something special.”

Purdue’s season goal of playing in the Big Ten Championship game is not over, but it suffered a serious blow, Saturday.  Now, the Boilers must turn their focus from how to get to Indianapolis to simply regrouping after a challenging start to the conference campaign.

“The last two weekends we have not been, but we believe we can still be an outstanding football team,” said Hope.  

“Big Ten football is no place for the faint hearted or squeamish and Purdue football is not place for the faint hearted or squeamish.  So, we have to rally up and do better as a football team.  We have talented players and we are going to bounce back and prove our worth to one another and our fan base, as well.”