Preview: Badgers go for 14 consecutive wins over Purdue
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin has absolutely dominated Purdue of late.
The Badgers have won 13 consecutive games against the Boilermakers, including six straight at Camp Randall Stadium. A year ago, Wisconsin needed every bit of three overtimes to eke out a victory at Purdue.
“People don’t know, we’ve been having battles with Purdue,” senior linebacker Chris Orr said. “People that might be looking past this, this is not a game like that. We’ve been battling with them. We went to triple overtime last year, (20)17 came down to the wire. I mean, they’re a really good football team.”
Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor ran for a career-high 321 yards on 33 carries in last year’s meeting. His final carry of the day was a 17-yard run that gave the Badgers a 47-44 win.
“That was my first overtime game,” said Taylor, who scored three touchdowns in the victory. “And it went into triple overtime. So I’m like, ‘What are the chances my first overtime game goes into triple overtime?’ But it was actually really fun. … Those guys made tremendous plays.”
Taylor and the 14th-ranked Badgers (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten, No. 12 CFP) look to secure their 14th straight win over the Boilermakers (4-6, 3-4 Big Ten) on Saturday in their final home game of the season, while also keeping pace with No. 11 Minnesota (9-1, 6-1, No. 10 in CFP) in the Big Ten West standings. Wisconsin is a game behind the Golden Gophers and will play them next week.
“If we continue doing things right, then we’ll be right back and where we want to be at the end of the year,” said Taylor, who has averaged 270 yards in his previous two games against the Boilermakers. “So we’ve got to make sure we continue to do what we did (last week) against Nebraska, stay focused and just focus on Purdue this week.”
Boilermakers coach Jeff Brohm has led Purdue to bowl games in each of his first two seasons at the school. He also made postseason trips in each of his three seasons as Western Kentucky’s head coach. And after it looked like the Boilermakers season was doomed three weeks ago, they’ve rallied to win back-to-back games behind their third starting quarterback this season, Aidan O’Connell, who made the team as a walk-on in 2017.
“He’s done a very good job for us,” Brohm said. “For someone to just kind of come in, learn the offense, sit behind people, continue to study, still grasp the principles and things we’re doing, takes some reps along the way. I think when he’s had an opportunity he’s done a very good job.”
To keep Purdue’s streak, and Brohm’s, intact, O’Connell will have to lead the Boilermakers to their first victory at Wisconsin since 2003, then beat rival Indiana at home.
THE OTHER TAYLOR
Wisconsin wide receiver A.J. Taylor scored his 10th career receiving touchdown on a career-long 55-yard reception last week at Nebraska. The 5-foot-11 senior had a team-high 89 yards on five catches against the Boilermakers last season. Taylor is one of 13 Wisconsin seniors who will be honored on Saturday. This Badgers’ senior class has posted a 40-11 record and won three bowl games.
Brohm sees a common denominator among the offenses that have given the Badgers trouble — a mobile quarterback. As much as Brohm appreciates what O’Connell has done in his first two college games, he realizes that’s not one of O’Connell’s strengths.
“Pretty much when you’ve had a running quarterback, you spread the field, that’s what’s hurt them,” Brohm said. “I don’t know if that’s what we can do at this point, but that is what’s hurt them.”
COAN HE DO IT AGAIN?
Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan earned his first career victory against Purdue last season after throwing for 160 yards and two touchdowns.
“It definitely helped my confidence out,” Coan said. “It was the first win of my college career so it definitely was really exciting for me. It was just such a fun game to be a part of, multiple overtimes and just battling with the guys. It was a lot of fun.”
The 6-foot-3 junior has completed 72.2% of his passes this season, which ranks fourth nationally among players with at least 200 attempts, and has thrown 13 touchdowns against three interceptions.
The Boilermakers are coming off their second bye week of the season. If Brohm had his way, Purdue would have played last week.
“I like to play the season, get it going. I’m used to the one bye week,” he said. “When you’re actually playing a little bit better football, it’s good to keep playing. So I’d rather keep playing.”