Upon further review: Wisconsin vs. Purdue

With the run game stalled, quarterback Joel Stave kept the ball moving with big pass plays -- his 30 completions were the fourth most in UW history.

Andy Manis/Associated Press

Coming in as a big favorite against Purdue, things didn’t exactly go as planned for Wisconsin, which mustered only a 10-7 lead at the half thanks to a few mistakes.

But the Badgers were still clearly the better team, able to move the ball down the field while the Boilermakers could barely do anything on offense. Purdue sold out against the run on defense and Wisconsin was able to take advantage as Joel Stave gained 322 yards on 30-of-39 passing.

Wisconsin didn’t need to sell out anything in its defensive effort, holding Purdue down effectively no matter what the Boilermakers tried.

Winning 24-7 wasn’t the large margin of victory expected, but, as usual, any win is a good one.

The recap of Saturday’s game:

— Purdue had one of the worst run defenses in the nation. Wisconsin doesn’t have one of the worst run offenses but it is clear the Badgers need the impact of a Corey Clement (not to mention more consistency from its offensive line). Dare Ogunbowale is a fine third-down running back, Taiwan Deal (who didn’t play) is a change-of-pace back and Alec Ingold is a fine, short-yardage fullback type. None are the home-run hitter like Clement, who actually dressed but didn’t play. No one is expecting Clement to be like Melvin Gordon last year, but UW needs something.

— Stave’s confidence is 10-fold from what it was last year. He’s making throws either he wouldn’t try or would miss badly last year. His pass over the middle to Troy Fumagalli with three defenders around him was perfect, and nothing he would have accomplished in 2014.

— Still, Stave is not perfect (just ask any of his detractors). He still has a tendency to not look off receivers and his interception was a horribly thrown pass.

— Ingold showed his toughness on his fourth-quarter run, fighting off a few tacklers to turn a loss into a score. But he wasn’t the only one. Ogunbowale also piled through a crowd on his touchdown run.

— Beau Benzschawel got his second straight start and continues to shake off the rust. He had a great hustle play to make the tackle way down field after Stave’s interception, but also had a whiff on block leading to a sack.

— In addition to Clement and Deal, center Dan Voltz didn’t play, causing Wisconsin to use yet another offensive line formation. Michael Deiter moved to center with Micah Kapoi and Walker Williams starting at guard. During the game, kickoff specialist Andrew Endicott was injured and cornerback Derrick Tindal had to leave the game.

— Tanner McEvoy wasn’t used as a wide receiver, but did see time in the wildcat formation on three consecutive plays on Wisconsin’s first series in the third quarter. He ran for 14 yards and 2 yards, then handed off to Ogunbowale, who gained 3 yards. On defense, McEvoy had two tackles and recovered a fumble, but he also had missed tackles on back-to-back plays on Purdue’s scoring drive.

— It was reported that third-string quarterback D.J. Gillins worked out at wide receiver this past week and might have been used on special teams during the game, but he was not listed on the game book’s participation chart.

— How much is Wisconsin passing the ball? This was the fifth time in seven games Stave had 30 or more passing attempts. Since 2008, no Badgers QB had done than more than three times in a season.

— Just three of Purdue’s 11 drives were longer than 20 yards — 59, 29 (touchdown) and 22.

Badgers 24, Boilermakers 7

— Wisconsin won its first game with less than 100 yards rushing since the 2007 Capital One Bowl when the Badgers had minus-5 yards.

It wasn’t the blowout that many expected, but even though it tied the game Purdue never really had a chance. Wisconsin’s defense keeps proving it is the real deal. The offense needs a shuffle. Getting Corey Clement back should help. It better. The Badgers are technically in the Big Ten West hunt, but will need a lot of help as Iowa is primed to win the division. Every win helps get UW to a better bowl, though.

T.J Edwards was a one-man gang, recording 16 tackles (seven solo) and 1.5 tackles for loss. He also had a big-time hustle play, tracking down Purdue’s Markell Jones on a pass play and stripping him of the ball. And he’s only a freshman.

Joel Stave certainly wasn’t perfect — his interception was as bad as you’ll see — but Wisconsin had no real run game to speak of and in times like those you need the quarterback to step up, and Stave did just that, taking advantage of Purdue stacking the box. Stave made the offense go and had several big third-down passes. His 30 completions were the fourth-most in UW history.

Late in the third quarter, after a punt pinned Purdue at its own 5, Wisconsin’s defense — namely T.J. Edwards and Joe Schobert — stepped up, forcing the Boilermakers to punt out of its own end zone. A short punt gave Wisconsin good field position and the Badgers drove down and scored to make it 17-7, all but putting the game away.

3 — the number of 20-plus-yard plays for Wisconsin. The Badgers racked up the offense and controlled the ball, mainly because they dinked and dunked their way down the field. All of Wisconsin’s big plays came through the air — 28-yard passes to Troy Fumagalli and Jazz Peavy and a 20-yarder to Peavy.

"We struggled offensively. We need the defense to step up and I thought they did." — Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst

"They’re tough upfront so we had to do stuff in the passing game to keep the ball moving." — Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave

"That touchdown run in the fourth quarter was incredible. It could have been a 3-yard loss." — Stave on running back Alec Ingold

Wisconsin (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) travels to Illinois (4-2, 1-1) for a game which might be tougher than usual. The Illini had a last-second comeback win over Nebraska and are showing some life under interim head coach Bill Cubit with QB Wes Lunt playing well.