Purdue Football: Defensive Struggles too Much for Purdue to Overcome
Purdue’s hopes at a cinderella-like run to end the season and earn bowl eligibility were stifled on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.
The Boilermakers (4-7) fell to the Wisconsin Badgers (9-2) by a score of 45-24.
Purdue hung around for the first half, even grabbing a 17-14 lead for a short while, but ultimately the Badgers proved to be too much for the young Purdue team.
“We knew going into this game that we were facing a very good football team and we had our hands full,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “I do think that we showed some fight early on and found some ways to score points...and then kind of the wheels came off.”
The Badgers got off to a quick start, taking a 14-3 lead into the second quarter, but quarterback Aidan O’Connell and the rest of the Purdue offense were able to keep Purdue in the game. O’Connell showed poise in the hostile environment, connecting on 26 of his 43 pass attempts on the day for two touchdowns and one interception.
The Purdue receivers had big days to help out O’Connell. Freshman David Bell, went for over 100 yards once again, catching 10 passes for 108 yards and senior tight end Brycen Hopkins caught eight passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Hopkins second score of the day came on a trick play drawn up by Brohm. After receiving a backwards pass from O’Connell, Milton Wright hit Hopkins for a wide open 37-yard score.
“We took some shots are and we were effective, and executed, and it was fun to do,” Brohm said. “I think our players got a little mojo going, we had a little rhythm, we had a little spark to us and that was fun to see.”
The offense did, in fact, play with some mojo, but the defense was a completely different story.
Wisconsin seemingly did whatever they wanted on offense, particularly on the ground where they ran for 403 yards and four touchdowns. That was highlighted by standout running back Jonathon Taylor who ran for over 200 yards for the third consecutive game. He finished the game with 22 and one score.
“In order to play Wisconsin well you’ve got to create some stops and you’ve got to get off the field,” Brohm said. “It was not a good day for us.
The lone bright spot from the defense came on their ability to create turnovers. They forced three fumbles and interception one pass, at a crucial moment in the game. The offense though, turned those turnovers into just seven points. Brohm’s simple explanation for that is that Wisconsin is just a better team.
“It just goes to show you that they played much better than we did, and they’re a better football team than we are,” Brohm said.
Next up for Purdue is one final game in front of the home crowd when Indian comes to town for the Old Oaken Bucket game next Saturday. With bowl hopes gone, Brohm still expects his players to get up and excited for next week's game.
“I think that coming back home with our seniors and playing in front of our home crowd is incentive enough,” Brohm said. “I hope we have a lot of fight next week and try to come out next Saturday and compete.”