Oct 15, 2022; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) reaches for the goal line against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Football: Studs and Duds vs. Purdue

Wisconsin Badgers Studs and Duds vs. Purdue

The Wisconsin Badgers (4-4, 2-3 Big Ten) defeated the Purdue Boilermakers (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) 35-24 on Saturday evening. Wisconsin put together a complete game on offense and defense. As a result, they took down one of the frontrunners in the Big Ten West.

Here are the studs and duds from Saturday’s victory.

Studs:

John Torchio

Wisconsin faced a pass-heavy offense on Saturday. While it wasn’t an outstanding defensive performance against the pass, John Torchio put together one hell of a game.

The senior safety led the team in tackles on Saturday with ten tackles, including three solo tackles. Torchio also managed to haul in two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown. With Torchio’s two interceptions, Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell has logged six career interceptions against the Badgers.

The Badgers allowed 320 yards through the air (with a large amount of those yards in garbage time), so it wasn’t necessarily a shutdown performance. However, with Torchio’s help, the Badgers’ defense kept the game in control and led the team to a victory at home.

The Wisconsin Badgers’ rushing attack

The Badgers came into Saturday averaging 170 yards per game on the ground. They eclipsed their average, notching 178 total rushing yards, with Braelon Allen and Isaac Guerendo sharing the workload.

Allen took a majority of the snaps in the backfield, carrying the ball 16 times for 113 yards and a touchdown. The Badgers’ RB1 was taken out of the game for a short duration due to injury but eventually came back into action. Allen put together a productive game, and his backup also stepped up.

Guerendo stepped in while Allen was being examined for his injury. He immediately made an impact, taking a handoff 54 yards for a touchdown. Altogether, Guerendo carried the ball seven times for 72 yards and a touchdown.

The rushing attack kept the Badgers trucking down the field and was a key component to Saturday’s victory.

Graham Mertz

Mertz needed a bounceback game after a subpar performance against Michigan State, and he did just that.

The redshirt junior quarterback made some excellent throws and showed confidence in the pocket. Altogether, Mertz threw for 203 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged over 15 yards per attempt on Saturday. Purdue’s secondary has been subpar this year, and Mertz took advantage of that.

After a shaky performance last week, seeing Mertz get back on track was refreshing. Now heading into a bye week, he’ll have plenty of time to prep for the last stretch of the season.

Dud(s):

The Wisconsin Badgers special teams unit

Wisconsin’s special teams unit has been an area of concern in 2022, and Saturday’s performance was no exception

In the fourth quarter, punt returner Dean Engram muffed a punt to give Purdue the ball inside the red zone. The drive ended in a highly questionable touchdown call.

While this was one of the only gaffs for the Badgers on Saturday, it was still a tough thing to see after the struggles the special team unit has faced all season. The special teams unit has a lot to go over in the bye week, and we can only hope to see some improvements in the last four games of the 2022 season.

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