P.J. Fleck ended his post-game press conference earlier in the day with the words “Boiler Up,” but the Minnesota Golden Gophers would receive no favors from Purdue on Saturday.
And now here we go.
Wisconsin’s dominant performance over the Boilermakers now sets up an axe game in Minnesota that determines the Big Ten West, and which team will get to play in Minneapolis for the Big Ten title.
On senior day, Wisconsin welcomed the Purdue Boilermakers to Camp Randall in what would be the final home game for the 2019 Badgers. Though it was far from pretty, UW rolled to a 45-24 win over Purdue in the end.
The game and win would be the last for seniors Chris Orr, Zach Hintze, and Zach Baun among others but boy did they make it a special one.
Kicker Zach Hintze showed up big before the first half closed, with a school record 62-yard field goal as time expired. The field goal was the first he had made in his four years at UW, and the kick set off a frenzy in the stadium.
“It was surreal. I can’t explain in words how that moment felt,” Hintze said. “It was a lot of chaos, a lot of people jumping on me. It was insane.”
The booming kick put the Badgers up 24-17 going into the break. The points proved to be a huge swing momentum as the Boilermakers would be outscored 21-7 for the rest of the game.
Linebacker Chris Orr gave Hintze the nickname of Legatron after the game, and rightfully so.
Orr picked up his eleventh sack of the season, while also leading the team in tackles, with nine. The eleven sacks puts Orr in fifth place in Badger history for sacks in a single season.
Baun sealed the game for the Badgers with a fourth and one stop, putting the final touch on Wisconsin’s 21 point victory. The stop created an incredible moment where both Orr and Baun walked off the field together.
Senior day for both Baun and Orr was about taking in the energy that Camp Randall brings, and their experience with college football as a whole.
“Jump around, me and Chris were kind of talking about what we were gonna do, are you gonna jump, are you not gonna jump,” Baun said. “I kind of just decided of standing on the field a little bit, I didn’t jump just kind of looked around and embraced the whole thing. A lot of senior day was just about embracing the moment”
Though Jonathan Taylor isn’t a senior, the reality is that this might have been his last game at Camp Randall and he was appropriately honored with a curtain call in the last two minutes.
“Being appreciative of that opportunity. I didn’t know that that was going to happen. Once it was going on you kind of start looking around at the fans like ‘wow’,” Taylor said.
Taylor put on a dazzling performance as he ran for 222 yards and a touchdown. It’s the third time in as many games that he’s run for 200-yards, and now the second team he has run for 200-yards against on three separate occasions.
Taylor’s performance was a part of a 606-yard outing for the offense, which has continued to improve, but who also turned the ball over four times.
The defense, on the other hand, continued a trend of giving up big plays, this time coming at the hands of trick plays that Purdue pulled out of a hat. The Boilermakers scored on all of their first three possessions en route to 221 yards in a half, but the Badgers defense showed up big time in the second half. They only surrendered seven points in the second, and only allowed Purdue’s offense to put together 155 more yards of offense. Another huge bright spot is that the unit remarkably only gave up seven points off of the four Wisconsin turnovers.
The win was far from perfect, but it was just that, a win. It now sets up a monster matchup in Minneapolis next week where the Big Ten West will be on the line and Wisconsin hopes to bring the Axe back to Madison where it resided for 14 years before last year’s game.
“We’ve got a bad taste in our mouth that we’re trying to get rid of,” linebacker Zach Baun said.
Chris Orr, who is never shy to share his thoughts about bringing the Axe back to Madison.
“That’s the plan,” Orr said. “I heard he said ‘Boiler Up’ ha, ha ha ha.,” Orr added.
Border battles, rivalry games are always feisty, and chippy but this weekend’s matchup has all the looks of a classic.