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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, April 19, 2024

Gameday: Five things to watch

 

1. Ball goes for record

Junior Montee Ball has cemented himself as one of the premiere running backs in the country since making his first start against Purdue last year. Ball, a Doak Walker Award candidate, has scored at least one touchdown in each of his last 14 games. In these games, Ball has amassed 36 touchdowns, most in the FBS; the next highest total is 23.

Ball has accumulated 21 touchdowns this year, which puts him three behind the all-time single-season school record set by Brian Calhoun in 2005. If Ball stays on his current pace, he could place himself in Big Ten lore as well, as he only needs five more touchdowns to tie the Big Ten single-season record.

Ball figures to add at least one more touchdown to his total this week against Purdue as he scored two touchdowns in last year's matchup in West Lafayette.

 

2. O-Line redemption time

The Badger offensive line is normally regarded as one of the premiere groups in the country, but the men in the trenches did not look that way against Ohio State as they were stymied for most of the game by the Buckeyes' talented defense.

The Badger offensive line had troubles getting the Buckeyes off the ball and had trouble setting the edge when they ran stretch plays. This inability to control the line of scrimmage led the Badgers to gain only 89 yards on the ground, their worst ground total in two years.

The Badgers will likely have to get their run game going if they are to have success against Purdue on Saturday and it all starts with the offensive line. Look for the Badger front five to return to form this week as Purdue does not present as much talent on defense as Ohio State and has struggled with the running game all year, giving up an average of 170 yards a game.

 

3. Home sweet home

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Playing on the road has been a problem for Bret Bielema and his Badgers ever since he became head coach at Wisconsin, and this year has been no exception. After suffering two heartbreaking last-second losses on the road to Michigan State and Ohio State the last two weeks, Bielema's record in true road games is now 14-12.

Camp Randall Stadium will be a sight for sore eyes for the Badgers as they look to regroup and get back to their previous winning ways. The atmosphere and raucous crowd of Camp Randall has proved to be an extreme advantage for the Badgers as Wisconsin holds a 14-game winning streak when playing in Madison and has won 37 out of 40 games there under Bret Bielema.

They will look to continue this streak against Purdue, who has lost its last 13 road games against top 25 teams and has not won a game at Camp Randall since 2003.

 

4. QB BOILING OVER?

Purdue's quarterback situation has been a bit fluid all year, but became even more so with their blowout loss last week to Michigan. Junior Caleb TerBush has been the Boilermakers' starter all year, but when the team has struggled he has been pulled in favor of senior Robert Marve.

TerBush finally looked like he was going to take the next step and give Purdue the stability it needed at quarterback when he completed 64 percent of his passes and through two touchdowns in Purdue's 21-14 win over then No. 23 Illinois two weeks ago, but the offense was only able to score once under his direction in Purdue's 36-14 loss to Michigan last week, and he was once again replaced by Marve.

There appears to be no controversy yet, as TerBush will once again be starting for the Boilermakers this weekend, but it will be interesting to see how much leash Purdue head coach Danny Hope will be willing to give him.

 

5. Tackle football?

This week's game for the Badgers against Purdue will also be an opportunity for the Wisconsin to regain its swagger after two subpar performances on the road the past two weeks in which it gave up 37 and 33 points to Michigan State and Ohio State, respectively.

There are many things one can point to, but the main problem for the Badgers this past weekend was their run defense, especially their tackling.

The Badgers gave up 268 rushing yards to the Buckeyes Saturday, most of which could have been prevented if the first man to the ball would have made the tackle. There were countless times in which the Badgers had Braxton Miller or Daniel "Boom" Herron stopped for a loss or no gain, but they were either juked out or did not wrap up.

The Badgers will have to get their tackling problems fixed quickly, as they face a Purdue offense that has averaged over 180 yards per game on the ground this year.

 

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