Each and every year the Wisconsin football team has a game on their schedule where they go up against someone who’s almost a mirror image of them. For the first time in a long time, the Purdue Boilermakers are that team in a schematic sense.
Both the Badgers and Boilermakers run a pro-style offense and have new head coaches preparing for their first ever conference game in the Big Ten.
That’s where the mirror image ends though as Wisconsin is a team loaded with talent and Purdue is struggling through a transition phase.
Purdue Boilermakers (1-2) Analysis: Purdue had a dreadful start to the season – 42-7 loss to unranked Cincinnati – before rebounding with a win against Indiana State and a tough-fought loss with Notre Dame. Conference season is a rebirth for teams who struggled in their non-conference slate, so don’t discount Purdue’s motivation on the road.
The only issue with buying in to the Boilermakers is how bad they’ve been on offense. This unit can’t keep the defense off the field as they’ve only converted 34.1 percent of their third downs. Purdue hasn’t exactly played the defensive stalwarts of the world either, yet have only mustered 268.0 total yards per game. The run game has been particularly bad with only 79.0 yards per game.
Wisconsin is the opposite and has one of the best run-games in the nations. That’s where Purdue’s strength on defense will play a big role. They’ve given up an average of 117 yards per game to opposing backs which ranks 31st in the nation.
Coach’s Quote of the Week: “We have to handle the environment and handle the adversity,” Darrell Hazell said of facing Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Badgers (2-1) Analysis: Wisconsin is coming off a heartbreaking loss at Arizona State where the Pac-12 officiating crew denied a chance for the win by eliminating the field goal chance they truly deserved.
On the offensive side, it’s all about running back Melvin Gordon. The human highlight reel has covered an average of 36.4 yards on eight career touchdowns. He showed everyone in the nation how fast he is when he broke off a career-long 80 yard touchdown during the first play of the second half in the loss to Arizona State.
If not for Gordon and the fascinating run-game, the Badgers’ new-look defense would be a topic for discussion. A group mixed with experienced seniors and really young starters is a treat to watch. They rank ninth nationally in total defense (264.3 yards per game) and 10th in scoring defense (10.7 points per game).
Coach’s Quotes of the Week: “But the championship is still there for really every team in the Big Ten right now. They all have opportunities and will for weeks to come. That’s always something to fight for, and we’re excited about that opportunity.” -Gary Andersen on moving on from the ASU fiasco and going after a Big Ten Championship
Brutally Honest Prediction: Wisconsin 40 Purdue 14
Purdue’s run defense may look good against the likes of Cincinnati, Indiana State and Notre Dame but it’s no match for the three-headed monster that the Badgers let loose every week. What keeps this game from being close is the fact that the Badgers are extra-motivated following a loss that they believe they shouldn’t have incurred. Wisconsin will be hungry on both sides of the ball this Saturday.
TV Coverage: ABC/ESPN2 at 2:37 PM CT; Mike Patrick (play-by-play), Ed Cunningham (analyst) and Jeannine Edwards (sidelines)
Betting Lines: Wisconsin favored by 22.5 and over/under at 47.5 points.
2013 Record straight up: 3-0
2013 Record against the spread: 0-3
2013 Record in over/under: 1-1
*no over/under for Tennessee Tech game
Who do you think will win in the Badgers’ Big Ten opener against the Boilermakers? 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 sharing Fantasy Advice and pretends 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 email@example.com.
*Pictures obtained from jsonline.com and indysportsreport.comFollow paulmbanks