Badger Football Preview: Week 8 versus Purdue

  • Post Author
    by Sports director
  • Post Date
    Thu Oct 20 2022

By: Joey Bonadonna

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, the Wisconsin Badgers will play their 2022 homecoming game against a Big Ten West foe in the Purdue Boilermakers.

The Badgers are coming off of a double overtime loss at Michigan State by a score of 34-28. They are 3-4 overall, with a 1-3 conference record. That the worst start in program history since 1991. The Boilermakers come in with a 5-2 record, most recently narrowly beating Nebraska 43-37.

Big changes have happened within the Badgers' program since the last home game as after the Illinois game, athletic director Chris McIntosh decided to part ways with head coach Paul Chryst and in-state defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard as interim head coach. The Badgers will have to go 3-2 in their last five games in order to be eligible for a bowl game. Their current bowl game streak has been active since 2001, which was also before this writer was born (this backfired on me in the last preview I wrote).

Wisconsin is on a 15-game win streak against Purdue dating back to 2004. Last year's matchup in West Lafayette ended with a 30-13 victory for the Badgers, behind multi-century mark rushing performances by Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi. According to the Badgers' official injury report, Mellusi will be out for this game with an arm injury that he sustained during a win over Northwestern. His status will be re-evaluated after the upcoming bye week.

Purdue's offense contains a lot of firepower and experience, headlined by sixth-year senior quarterback Aidan O'Connell, who is the reigning Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in the win over Nebraska. His 325 passing yards per game is tops among Big Ten passers. His go-to target, sixth-year transfer wide receiver Charlie Jones leads the Big Ten in receptions and touchdowns and is second in receiving yards. The run game, however, contains much more youth, led by redshirt freshman Devin Mockobee who was the Big Ten Freshman of the Week in Week 7. His 453 rushing yards are ninth in the conference.

Wisconsin's defense sees a tough matchup in Purdue's pass-heavy offense as they were shredded last week by Michigan State's receiving corps. Jaylen Reed, Keon Coleman and Maliq Carr combined for well over 250 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Most 50/50 balls were won by Michigan State as well. The Badgers have given up 31.8 points per game in conference play, second-worst in the Big Ten. A big key towards winning this game for Wisconsin will be seeing better ball skills from their defensive backs.

On the flip side, the only way to describe Wisconsin's offense this season has been “consistently inconsistent.” In the first game in the Leonhard era against Northwestern, the Badgers had their most complete game offensively of the season with Graham Mertz throwing his second five-touchdown game of his career, the first UW quarterback to do so. Chimere Dike also had 185 receiving yards, the most by any UW wide receiver since Jared Abbrederis in 2014. He added three touchdowns on top of that. However, last week in East Lansing was not as impressive. The Badgers only gained 283 yards of total offense and turned the ball over twice against a bad Spartans defense, keeping their opponents in the game. One of those turnovers came at a crucial point as Braelon Allen fumbled to start the second overtime, giving MSU a prime opportunity to win, which they eventually capitalized on.

Purdue's defense has been boom or bust this season. While their passing defense ranks dead last in yards given up, they also are tops in interceptions in Big Ten play with seven. Senior safeties Cam Allen and Chris Jefferson have three and two respectively at the halfway point of the season. The pass rush for the Boilermakers has also been average but has a few players with potential to wreck a play. Kydran Jenkins, Khordae Sydnor and Branson Deen have all had multi-sack performances this season. If the Badgers play a clean game, they might be able to have success offensively, but taking care of the ball and good offensive line play will be key.

The Badgers and Boilermakers kick off on Saturday at 2:30pm from Camp Randall Stadium, with television coverage on ESPN. WSUM Sports will also be on the call with coverage available on 91.7 WSUM in the Madison area and on the station's sports stream online at