EVANSTON, ILLINOIS – OCTOBER 08: The Wisconsin Badgers huddle against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first half at Ryan Field on October 08, 2022 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Report Card: Wisconsin Football Week 8 Win at Purdue

Wisconsin Football continued the roller coaster season this past Saturday, defeating Purdue 35 to 24 at Camp Randall Stadium.

The Badgers had contributions from numerous phases of the game and looked a lot better than the team that took the field last week.

The score finished a lot closer than what the product on the field produced, as well.  After the first quarter, the Boilermakers never came within 18 points until under two minutes left in the game, where Purdue was able to score in garbage time.

The win brings Wisconsin football’s overall record to 4-4, with a conference record of 2-3.  This is good enough for fourth in the Big Ten West division.

Offense: B

The Wisconsin Badgers got off to a hot start in this one on both sides of the ball, with the offense getting the scoring started.

Quarterback Graham Mertz had an efficient day throwing the ball.  Mertz kicked off the scoring with a 29-yard pass to Skyler Bell for the first score of the game and would add another to Chimere Dike prior to the end of the first quarter.  These would be his only two scores on the day, however, finishing the day 13 for 21 on pass attempts and 203 yards.

Mertz’s efficient day through the air translated to the receiving core, as it has for most of the season.  Seven different receivers caught a ball, with Skyler Bell leading the way with four grabs for 87 yards and the opening score.

To complete the well-rounded day on offense, the rushing attack looked how Wisconsin football normally does.  Led by Braelon Allen, the team would rush the ball 29 times for 178 yards and two touchdowns.  Allen would finish the day with 16 of those carries for 113 yards and a touchdown.

Running back Isaac Guerendo also got in on the fun via the running game.  Guerendo ran the ball only 7 times but was able to bust off a 54-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.  This would be the last time Bucky would hit pay dirt and would close out the game.

The turnover battle had features from both sides in this contest.  Bucky’s lone contribution came via the receiving core.  Wide receiver Dean Engram put the ball on the ground, which was eventually recovered by the Boilermakers.

Defense: B+

As mentioned before, the Badgers got off to a hot start on both sides of the ball.

The defense would join the fun for the second score of the game, when safety John Torchio picked off Purdue quarterback Aiden O’Connell.  Torchio would take this one back for the score from 31 yards out.

Two more interceptions would come later in this contest, bringing that to three total turnovers forced by Wisconsin’s defense on the day.  Torchio would add another, and linebacker Jordan Turner would get one as well.

The game would level out as things went along, however.  Purdue continued to gain yards on the day, despite the turnovers.

Purdue would produce 431 yards on the day in total.  320 of those would come via the passing game, and another 111 would come on the ground.  This ground attack would also feature a 100-yard rusher in Devin Mockobee.

Despite giving up the yards and eventual points, the Badgers defense deserves credit.  The unit would be on the field for ten minutes more than the offense but were still able to hold on.  Bend don’t break.

Coaching: A-

Like numerous times throughout this crazy season, Wisconsin football needed a bounce back game against a fellow Big Ten member.  Purdue is no easy task to have on the schedule to accomplish this, but the Badgers did just that.

All the sideline leaders seemed to be on their game, with the offensive and defensive sides of the ball contributing immensely.

The offense looked creative and balanced, putting points on the board with both the passing and rushing game.

The defense came out ready to play, letting the offense stretch the lead while keeping Purdue out of the end zone.  Defensive scoring always helps as well.

The special teams even looked decent.  Despite no field goal attempts, the punting unit looked solid.  Four of six punts ended up inside Purdue’s 20-yard line, putting Wisconsin at the top of the field position game.

Overall: B+

Wisconsin football will take any and all wins this season.

The final score ended up a lot closer than what the game looked like, but this is not why the grade isn’t higher.  The Badgers may have come out on top, but there were some concerning stats that suggest it could’ve been even closer.

Purdue won numerous important team battles, including total yards, possession time and first downs.  Usually, those battles mean more in the final result.

However, hard fought battles like this one can change the tone on a season, and help going in to next one.  With all the changes here, Badger fans should feel great about this one.

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