Wisconsin can take one more step toward a Big Ten West Division championship this weekend on the road in West Lafayette, Ind., against Purdue. The Badgers are sitting in a comfortable spot in the division with two games to play and are now starting to sniff a berth in the College Football Playoff. Looking to keep that momentum going forward, the Badgers look to secure a road win against a struggling program and avoid a slow start.
Wisconsin at Purdue
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 19 at 12 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Wisconsin -28
Three Things to Watch
1. Big Ten’s best rushing defense vs. Big Ten’s worst rushing offense
No team in the Big Ten has performed as well against the run this season as Wisconsin. The Badgers have allowed 101 rushing yards per game this season, and they have held each of their two most recent opponents (and three of the last four) to fewer than 100 yards on the ground. That includes 39 rushing yards by Northwestern. Only four teams have scored on the ground against Wisconsin this season as well. Wisconsin should thrive in taking away the run against Purdue, with the Boilermakers ranked last in the Big Ten in rushing offense. Good luck, Purdue.
2. Wisconsin runs the ball well too, and Purdue can’t stop the run
Let’s reverse the situation here, and it still is a massive mismatch in favor of the Badgers. Wisconsin has the Big Ten’s fourth-leading running game with an average of 198.7 rushing yards per game. Senior running back Corey Clement has rushed for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns and is third in the conference in rushing yards per game. Clement should have a big day on the ground as Purdue is giving up 248.0 rushing yards per game. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley just ran for 207 yards against the Boilermakers two weeks ago. Clement could potentially have the same stat line, unless the Badgers spread the ball around.
3. Wisconsin has not lost to Purdue since 2003
Purdue pulling an upset of the Badgers would be quite a shock for any number of reasons. History would certainly be one of them, although it has no tangible impact on the game this season. The Boilermakers have not celebrated a win against Wisconsin since 2003. Wisconsin has won the last 10 meetings. That streak should be expected to continue for at least one more year.
To put it simply, this is a complete mismatch between one program that is looking to make a push to get into the College Football Playoff and another with an interim head coach just looking to find building pieces to use for a rebuilding project. The Badgers could probably name their score in this one, especially if they are looking to come up with some style points for the selection committee. Or Wisconsin could take it relatively easy and just stick to the ground to run the clock as much as needed to get out of West Lafayette with a win.
Prediction: Wisconsin 38, Purdue 13
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.