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BOILERS, BADGERS BATTLE FOR LEGENDS DRIVER’s SEAT

Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush (19) during first half an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame South Bend Ind. Saturday

Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush (19) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

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Updated: November 14, 2012 3:11PM



Purdue might have gotten knocked down a peg or three by its lopsided loss to Michigan. But the Boilermakers (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten) have vowed not to allow that setback to carry over into Saturday’s home game against Wisconsin (4-2, 1-1).

Really, they cannot afford such a scenario to unfold in what shapes up to be a pivotal game — the pivotal game? — in the Leaders Division.

“The magnitude, or the potential magnitude, of this football game will get our team’s attention,” Purdue coach Danny Hope said. “We need all of our focus to be towards getting ready to play Wisconsin. I would be disappointed if we were so weak-minded that we would let a loss linger and affect the potential outcome of our season.

“I think we’ll bounce back as a football team, I have no reservations about that. We have to play better, that’s for sure. We’re excited about the opportunity this weekend, and that’s where our focus is at.”

Senior quarterback Caleb TerBush said the Boilermakers remain optimistic about their outlook.

“I feel like we’ve already bounced back,” he said. “We had Sunday to re-gather ourselves and see where we made our mistakes. We got to look over those, and correct them in our practice Sunday. We’re ready to get ready for Wisconsin now. We know they’re a good football team, and they’re coming into Ross-Ade. We have to make up for last week.”

With Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for postseason play, the Badgers are the only team in the division with a win to this point. The winner of this game could have the inside track, with Illinois and Indiana struggling.

“I would hate to think that any one particular game makes or breaks a whole season,” Hope said. “It’s certainly a game that could springboard our football team and our program, and put us in position to really do some great things this season. The opportunity is huge; we all recognize that.”

Wisconsin has won six straight games in the series, with Purdue last winning in 2003. The Boilermakers last won at home in 1997, having lost four straight at Ross-Ade.

Wisconsin hasn’t been its dominant self this season — the Badgers actually are second-to-last in the conference in rushing (133.5 yards per game), last in total offense (328.8) and ninth in scoring (24.0 points per game) — but has shown signs of returning closer to form.

The Badgers still have standout Montee Ball, running behind a quality offensive line, though they did fire their coach at that position after two games.

Key player: Bruce Gaston. A hamstring injury significantly limited the defensive tackle against Michigan, and the Boilermakers certainly could use a healthier version this week, particularly against Wisconsin’s traditionally powerful offensive line.

Purdue will win if: The Boilermakers regroup and refocus after their loss to Michigan; and, behind a still-developing offensive line, get their running game (possibly with Ralph Bolden in the mix for the first time this season) on track after a couple of less-than-productive weeks.

Wisconsin will win if: The Badgers dictate play along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball with their size and strength; and get adequate quarterback play, including from redshirt freshman Joel Stave.

Prediction: Purdue 24, Wisconsin 21

— Staff writer Michael Osipoff



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