It only took seven games, but the Wisconsin Badgers finally returned to the offensive dominance they displayed over the past couple of years. The running game was unstoppable with 467 yards on 57 carries in a 38-14 win at Purdue.
Montee Ball looked like the player everyone thought he was coming into the season while racking up a career high 247 yards on 29 carries and three touchdowns.
Ball is now the owner of the Big Ten’s all-time rushing touchdown record with 72, surpassing the great Ron Dayne.
What It Means: All things seem to go full-circle as the Badgers (5-2, 2-1) entered the season as the favorites to represent the Leaders Division in the Big Ten Championship before displaying a stagnant offense and raising serious doubts whether this team could even make a reasonable bowl game. After embarrassing the Boilermakers (3-3, 0-2) to a bigger extent than what Michigan did, Wisconsin is right back in the driver’s seat to play in the Championship and have a shot at a New Year’s Day Bowl game.
Player of the Game: RB Montee Ball (261 total yards and three touchdowns)
A couple more games like this and Ball could be right back in the discussion for the Heisman. It’s not like he’s been terrible in the Badgers’ previous six games (569 yards and eight touchdowns). For the first time this season, the offensive line looked dominant and created huge holes for not only Ball, but James White as well. White racked up 124 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, eclipsing that 100-yard mark for the first time since 2010. Tight end Jacob Pedersen also deserves a nod for catching four balls for 77 yards and a touchdown after being pretty much invisible to start the season.
Highlight of the Game: Near the end of the third quarter, all 335 pounds of defensive lineman Beau Allen got up to block a Purdue punt. The turnover came after Stave threw an ugly interception and led to seven more Wisconsin points.
Stat of the Game (11/23/2002): This is the date of the last time the Badgers had someone rush for 200+ and 100+ in one game. Running Back Anthony Davis had an amazing 301 yards and quarterback Brooks Bollinger had 112 (hat tip to JSOnline’s Dave Heller for the stat). Ball and White combined for 371 yards against the Boilermakers.
What’s Next: The Battle for the Axe will commence at Camp Randall next week when the Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-2, 0-2) come to town. Coming off back-to-back losses to Iowa and Northwestern, the Gophers are struggling to get back to the winner’s circle. Wisconsin has won eight straight against Minnesota. For their last loss, you have to go all the way back to 2003 when the Badgers fell 37-34 in Minneapolis.
What did you think of the Badgers rout of Purdue? Are they back or is Purdue just that bad? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Montee Ball (collegefootball.ap.org)
Dezmen Southward (bigstory.ap.org)Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks