Wisconsin runs roughshod over Purdue again
By Michael Osipoff firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-2485 September 21, 2013 8:38PM
Wisconsin's James White (20) breaks away from Purdue's Normondo Harris (1) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
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Updated: October 23, 2013 6:56AM
MADISON, Wis. — New regime for Purdue, old problems against Wisconsin.
For all of the emphasis the Boilermakers placed on containing the Badgers’ running game, they simply couldn’t do it on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, a central element in another rout in the matchup between the teams.
No. 24 Wisconsin amassed 388 yards on the ground as it downed Purdue 41-10, the Badgers’ eighth straight win in the series, with the last six by an average margin of 29.8 points. They averaged 8.1 yards on 48 carries in this game, with all five of their touchdowns coming via the run.
The dynamic duo of Melvin Gordon and James White ran roughshod over the Boilermakers (1-3, 0-1 Big Ten) — a combination of the talent of Wisconsin’s backs and the Badgers’ dominant offensive line, as well as Purdue’s suspect tackling. They each got 16 attempts in less than three quarters of work, with Gordon having 147 yards and three touchdowns, and White 145 and one 70-yarder.
“You have to wrap up against good backs,” Purdue coach Darrell Hazell said. “You have to keep your head up, you have to step to the ballcarrier and you have to wrap up, and we didn’t do a great job of that when the game was in the balance.”
The Badgers (3-1, 1-0), who had 546 yards of total offense, entered the game averaging 377.0 yards rushing (fifth nationally) and 8.0 per carry (second nationally). They didn’t hurt their averages, nor likely their standing.
“When we’re in position to make plays, we have to make them,” defensive tackle Bruce Gaston said. “Sometimes that’s what separates the score.
“We need to keep our composure and play Purdue football, which we obviously didn’t do. We have to stay level, not get too high or too low. We have to play level, and we didn’t. Sometimes we didn’t stay poised like we were supposed to. We were in position to get TFLs and tackles, and we didn’t. We know we’re definitely capable of doing that, so we have to get better.”
Last season at Ross-Ade Stadium, Wisconsin had 467 rushing yards in a 38-14 win. Two seasons ago at Camp Randall (where the last three games in the series have been decided by a combined score of 140-27), the Badgers had 364 in a 62-17 win. They continued that trend on Saturday.
“We have to stay sharp on defense,” linebacker Will Lucas said. “A team like that, they’re very patient, so they’re going to keep running the same plays. We have to fit it up right every time.”
Meanwhile, the Boilermakers generated a mere 180 total yards, including 45 rushing on 21 attempts. Rob Henry completed 18 of 36 passes for 135 yards with an interception.
“Really what it comes down to, I need to be more accurate on a few throws,” Henry said. “And we need to win — we need to win one-on-one battles.”
Wisconsin led 14-0 on Gordon’s 5-yard touchdown to cap a 95-yard drive and White’s 70-yard score, before Purdue made a brief — and mirage-like — pitch to make it a game. Henry scored a touchdown on a 22-yard run — an apparent busted play for the team’s longest rush of the season — with 11:59 left in the half, and Ricardo Allen intercepted a Joel Stave pass and returned it 27 yards to the Wisconsin 10.
“Execution wasn’t perfect, but luckily the offensive line blocked it well, and just had to improvise a little bit,” Henry said of his touchdown run.
After Allen’s pick, the Boilermakers wound up settling for Paul Griggs’ 24-yard field goal with 9:44 left — the last time they scored in the game.
The Badgers’ response? Gordon scored just 2:31 later, a 27-yard run on which he was practically untouched.
To start the second half, Wisconsin opened a 31-10 lead on Gordon’s 15-yard touchdown, with just 2:55 elapsed.
“The lack of execution on offense and the lack of tackling on defense were probably the two biggest culprits of the day,” Hazell said. “You’re looking at a 14-10 football game, they drive it down the field on us and score again, and the offense can’t stay on the field. We’re three-and-out, three-and-out — I don’t know how many three-and-out series we had. So that puts more pressure on the defense. It’s a whole team thing that we have to get fixed.”