While the Badger defense dominated early in the frigid wind, holding the Purdue Boilermakers to just three points in the first quarter, the offense started up like an old jalopy on a cold winter’s morning.
Luckily for Wisconsin (6-2 Big Ten, 9-2 overall), things warmed up and the offense started rolling. In the second quarter the Cardinal and White piled up 35 points, including a massive 28-0 run that spanned less than six minutes of actual game clock. The second quarter surge led the Badgers to a 49-20 win over Purdue (1-7, 3-8) in their final road game of the season.
As has become commonplace for Wisconsin, the real spark came from the defense, after the Badgers’ offensive unit had already cracked the scoreboard on a hard-fought 1-yard touchdown run by sophomore fullback Alec Ingold.
Within moments of Ingold’s score, the Badgers were right back in the end zone with only eight seconds off the game clock since the previous touchdown. Junior linebacker T.J. Watt engulfed an attempted pass within feet of Boilermaker quarterback David Blough. With a slight stiff arm and a few quick strides, Watt found his way into the end zone for a pick-six.
From that point, Wisconsin really took control after an uneasy first quarter, crossing the plane three additional times for three more touchdowns before the end of the half. The Badger offense started to find some rhythm after head coach Paul Chryst made the decision to, once again, pull redshirt freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook in favor of senior Bart Houston. Houston provided the offense with improved physicality, which seemed to energize the rest of the offense—particularly the running game.
Senior running back Corey Clement led the Badgers’ ground attack in carries—27 for 112 yards—as he has done all season, but yet again it was redshirt freshman Bradrick Shaw who was really turning heads. Behind a more cohesive Badger front, Shaw touched the ball eight times for 68 yards, an 8.5-yard average, and found the end zone on two separate occasions. The young back has emerged as perhaps the best on the team, and his stock has only been on the rise.
The Badgers have now won five straight and have only Minnesota sitting between them and an appearance at Lucas Oil Stadium for the Big Ten Championship Game. As teams in the top 10 continue to fall, the pressure and stakes will only rise for Wisconsin moving forward.