After starting the season just 3-2, the Wisconsin Badgers looked like a team spiraling downward. However, three consecutive wins and a first-place tie in the Big Ten West has ensured the Badgers a bowl game and talks of a conference title. The Purdue Boilermakers have played in a few close games against top conference opponents and their 3-6 record is misleading. This team is no easy win.
Joel Stave has come back from injury to lead an ailing Wisconsin passing attack. Since returning, the Badgers are 3-1 and he has passed for just 423 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions for the struggling 121st-ranked aerial attack. Stave’s fellow quarterback, Tanner McEvoy, has racked up just 703 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 400 yards and three more scores — his main claim of success. No matter who the quarterback has been, Alex Erickson has been reliable, leading the team with 32 catches for 440 yards and two touchdowns. Sam Arneson is second on the team with 17 catches for 257 yards and three touchdowns. The Badgers’ run game ranks third in the country as Melvin Gordon is having a Heisman-like season, rushing for 1,296 yards and 18 touchdowns while Corey Clement has been one of the nation’s best backups, rushing for 697 yards and seven scores.
While the passing offense ranks just 102nd in the nation, Purdue has been graced by the strong arm of sophomore Austin Appleby who leads the team with 871 passing yards and seven touchdowns after not starting the season as the team’s top QB. He replaces fellow sophomore Danny Etling as the top dog and both QB’s had made Danny Anthrop their favorite target, connecting with the junior wide out 38 times for 616 yards and four touchdowns. However, Appleby will need to find a new favorite target as Anthrop will be out for the year with a non-contact knee injury suffered a week ago. Justin Sinz could be that guy as he is second on the team with 218 yards and a touchdown on 26 catches. Running back Akeem Hunt has been dynamic this year, rushing for 706 yards and five touchdowns while catching 36 passes out of the backfield for 198 yards.
Defensively, the Boilermakers have been lackluster this season. Purdue ranks just 79th in total yards allowed per game, struggling equally against the pass and run, while also ranking a lowly 96th in points per contest. Wisconsin has fared much better, ranking third in the country in points allowed and No. 1 in all of college football in total yards allowed, giving up just 254 yards per game.
Wisconsin will travel to Purdue to take on the Boilermakers at 12 p.m. EST on Saturday, Nov. 8. The game will be broadcasted on ESPNU.
PREDICTION: Wisconsin 34, Purdue 17
Want to see the Badgers take on the Boilermakers in week 11? Check out ScoreBig for tickets.
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.