No. 12 Wisconsin plays host to Purdue in its regular-season home finale on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. A victory puts the Badgers on a collision course with Minnesota a week later.
Head coach Paul Chryst won’t allow Wisconsin (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) to look beyond Purdue. But if the Badgers beat the Boilermakers (4-6, 3-4) and No. 10 Minnesota (9-1, 6-1) defeats Northwestern on the road, the Badgers and Gophers will square off for the Big Ten West Division title on Nov. 30 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The division winner will play in the Dec. 7 Big Ten championship game.
“I understand and our players understand the talk and the chatter, and the noise, but all that matters is this game,” Chryst said. “All that matters is that we have a good Monday and put a good Tuesday behind that. It’s a pretty simple world we live in. I think that’s the only way to approach it.”
Junior running back Jonathan Taylor was a major contributor in Wisconsin’s win over Nebraska last weekend with 25 carries, 204 yards and two touchdowns.
In two games against Purdue, Taylor has combined for 63 carries for 540 yards and four touchdowns. In 2018’s 47-44 triple overtime win against the Boilermakers, he ran 33 times for 321 yards and three scores.
Junior quarterback Jack Coan continues to be a steady presence for Wisconsin. Coan ranks fifth in the country with a completion percentage of 72.2 and has completed 166 of 230 for 1,826 yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said that Wisconsin has added a “misdirection element to their offense,” which has thrown off opponents’ secondary. Taylor has also been strong.
The Boilermakers defense has allowed an average of 172.2 yards per game, which ranks 10th in the Big Ten in rushing defense.
“(We’ve) got to be able to hit him early, tackle him and get him to the ground,” Brohm said of Taylor, who leads the nation with 21 touchdowns. “Whether that’s tackle him low and wrap your arms around him (with) with one or two people tackling. He’s a great talent.”
Wisconsin’s defense will need to keep an eye on Purdue senior tight end Brycen Hopkins, who is one of eight semifinalists for the Mackey Award. The honor is given to the nation’s top tight end.
Hopkins is tied for third in the country among tight ends with 45 receptions and is ranked fourth with 561 receiving yards. He has three touchdowns this season.
Brohm has swapped out quarterbacks this season. Sophomore quarterback Aidan O’Connell orchestrated rallies in wins over Nebraska and Northwestern. In three-plus games, O’Connell has completed 49 of 72 passes for 404 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Boilermakers are fresh off a bye week, and won two straight games heading into the break. They’ve lost 12 consecutive games to Wisconsin, including six straight in Madison.
–Field Level Media