Taking on a hot Wisconsin team led by their record-breaking running back would be a tall order for any team in the Big Ten this late in the season, but for the Purdue football team, riddled with injuries and misfortune all season long, was too much.
While they were surprising and held their own in the first half, Wisconsin had their number in the second half and won, 45-24, thus ensuring Purdue cannot reach the six wins needed to qualify for a bowl game berth.
Star running back Jonathan Taylor led the way for the Badgers as he has done for three years. He has had his way with the Boilermakers, rushing for more than 5oo yards in the teams' last two meetings. Taylor carved up the Purdue defense Saturday, gaining 222 yards and scoring a touchdown on a 51 yard run in the first quarter. As a whole, Wisconsin totaled over 400 yards on the ground. At one point in the second half, Wisconsin ran on 13 straight plays using an old style Big Ten offense.
Taylor broke several records on the day, including most rushing yards in a player's first three seasons and most games with more than 200 yards rushing.
The Boilermakers were able to stay in the game for most of the day due to the defense winning the turnover battle. Wisconsin let the ball hit the turf four times and the boilers were able to scoop up three and also had an interception. Unfortunately for the Boilers, most of those takeaways were fruitless, with the offense unable to score consistently against the Badger defense.
Purdue tight end Brycen Hopkins snapped the streak of consecutive touchdowns scored by Purdue freshman at 19, dating back to late September. He would finish the day with eight catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns, one of which came on a trick play pass from wide receiver Milton Wright. Freshman standout David Bell caught 12 passes for 102 yards and a score.
Former walk on turned starting quarterback Aiden O’Connell had a strong first half but struggled down the stretch, finishing with 289 yards on more than 40 passes.
With this loss Purdue will end a regular season below .500 for the first time in three years under head coach Jeff Brohm. Purdue returns home for the Old Oaken Bucket game against a strong Indiana, which has already qualified for the postseason, next weekend.