MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Edwards heeded his defensive coordinator’s request for more production.
More games like the one Edwards had on Saturday against Purdue and Wisconsin will have another reliable playmaker on an already-dangerous defense.
Edwards had a career-high 16 tackles and a forced fumble, Joel Stave threw for 322 yards and Alec Ingold ran for two short scores in the Badgers’ 24-7 victory on Saturday over the Boilermakers.
The Badgers (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) overcame several penalties and other mistakes in the red zone to win on homecoming weekend at Camp Randall Stadium. A near-flawless defense held Purdue (1-6, 0-3) to season-lows of 191 yards of total offense and 55 on the ground.
"This defense, the reason it’s playing well is they don’t care about the numbers. They care about playing together and being a part of a good defense," coach Paul Chryst said.
Outside linebackers Joe Schobert and Vince Biegel draw the headlines for their pass-rushing prowess. Senior Michael Caputo provides a hard-hitting presence at safety.
Now Wisconsin is getting big plays from freshmen inside linebackers Edwards and Chris Orr, too. Coordinator Dave Aranda called on them this week to make more big plays.
"I’m glad he did. It’s that Coach Aranda love that we need," Edwards said.
The effort to simplify the offense this week for redshirt freshman Blough produced few results. Blough was 15 of 26 for 136 yards, picking up chunks of yardage late in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand for Wisconsin.
A 39-yard touchdown pass by Blough with 1:09 left was called back by a holding penalty.
Still, it took a while before Wisconsin could assert control.
The running game could only amass 96 yards against a Purdue defense that was giving up a Big Ten-worst 215 yards a game on the ground.
But the Badgers got production in the red zone from their tailbacks.
Dare Ogunbowale ran for 56 yards on 18 carries and a 4-yard touchdown run on the last play of the third quarter for a 17-7 lead.
Ingold, a freshman, powered his way for a 1-yard score after breaking a tackle at the 3 with 7:16 left in the game. He finished with 19 yards on nine carries.
Aside from his bad throw that led to the pick, Stave was solid and finished 30 of 39. The Badgers moved the ball effectively through the air despite some mistakes inside the 20.
"We’ve just got to do a better job executing" in the red zone, Stave said. "I thought we did a great job moving the ball, a great job sustaining drives."
Stave connected with seven different receivers, led by nine catches for 86 yards for Alex Erickson.