There was still some momentum carried over from the fourth quarter of Wisconsin's 31-14 against Illinois last week.
A quarter in which the Badgers dominated, they kept that momentum going in a big way, rolling past Purdue 38-14 in West Lafayette.
"I think from Sunday forward, after last week's game against Illinois, kind of felt some mojo in the fourth quarter," Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema said. "They prepared well all week.
"Didn't like the way, the game started, but the way our offense responded. To play a four quarter game the way they did, was exciting to watch."
The aforementioned poor start from Wisconsin began right on the opening kickoff. Purdue's Akeem Hunt returned the ball up to the Boilermakers' 47-yard line. Purdue Quarterback Caleb TurBush wasted no time, connecting with Receiver Antavian Edison for a 52-yard gain, setting the Boilermakers up with a first and goal from the 1-yard line.
TerBush scored on a quarterback keeper on the very next play, and the Badgers were in an early 7-0 hole on the road.
From there it was all Wisconsin. Senior Running Back Montee Ball stole the show with 247 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 27 carries. It was the fourth 100-yard game for Ball this season the 20th of his career. He went over 150 yards for the 10th time in his career and it was the third 200-yard game of his career.
“It was no secret that I wasn't playing well," Ball said of his performance early in the season. "That’s what I kept telling myself, was I need to play better. My team was looking for me to make plays. Today, obviously it showed. I finally woke up.”
Ball now has 72 career touchdowns, which gives him the Wisconsin and Big Ten career records. He passed 1999 Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, who scored 71 career touchdowns.
Ball had a career-high 247 yards rushing.
Although it was a career day for Ball, it was Freshman Quarterback Joel Stave who played well early and engineered a quick five-play, 75 yard drive, to get the Badgers back even. Stave was 3-3 passing on the drive, for 54 yards, and a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Pedersen.
“That was huge," Stave said about Wisconsin's quick response. "That was a really nice drive. Aggressive in the pass calling, got the run game going too. Just to keep the ball moving, not play behind the chains, and end with a touchdown, was huge for us. A great answer.”
Purdue threatened to take the lead once again. After getting the ball all the way down to Wisconsin's 29-yard line, Junior Safety Dezmen Southward came up with the play of the day defensively for the Badgers.
Southward intercepted a TerBush pass and returned it 31-yards, down to Wisconsin's 42-yard line. After recording a handful of interceptions in practice leading up to today's game, Southward had a feeling today might be his day.
“As a defensive back, you have to come in having that feeling every day," he said. "It happened today. I’m real excited. I felt like I could be super aggressive and we were. It paid off today.”
Wisconsin and Purdue entered the second quarter knotted at seven apiece. From there, Ball began to take over. The Senior Running Back carried the ball four times on Wisconsin's first trip of the second quarter, picking up 37 yards, capping the drive off with a 3-yard touchdown run, putting the Badgers on top 14-7.
Not lost in the shuffle was Junior Running Back James White, who picked up 134 rushing yards. As a team, Wisconsin rushed for 467 yards on the ground, the fifth best in school history.
“It’s very dangerous," White said about the duo of himself and Ball. "We know what we’re capable of. It’s just a matter of us going out there and doing it on Saturday’s."
A 30-yard field goal from Kyle French gave the Badgers a 17-7 lead heading into halftime. It was pretty much the same story throughout the second half for both teams, as Wisconsin needed just two plays to reach the end zone to begin the third quarter. Ball scored on a 67-yard touchdown run, the longest rushing touchdown of his career.
As the Badgers continued to pull away, Wisconsin's defense began to clamp down. Purdue managed just 252 total yards, while averaging just 4.3 yards per play.
Wisconsin's front also got to the quarterback five times on Saturday and the Badger defense held the Boilermakers to just 3-16 on third down conversions. Chris Borland, Mike Taylor, David Gilbert (.5), Pat Muldoon (.5), Brendan Kelly, and Warren Herring all recorded sacks.
“I think our match ups were good," Bielema said about the sack numbers. "We brought some pressures, but a lot of that was just four-man pressures. Guys getting on the edge and just beating guys one-on-one and getting some good push up the middle.”
After Beau Allen was able to block a punt with Wisconsin leading 24-7 late in the third quarter, Ball and the Badgers cashed in with a 3-yard touchdown run to go ahead 31-7 early in the fourth quarter.
Wisconsin's defense again got off the field quickly, stopping a Purdue drive that lasted just 1:47 and then it was White's turn to take over. The junior running back carried the ball on all five plays of the drive, moving the ball 66-yards, and ending the drive with a 14-yard touchdown run.
Purdue added a late touchdown on an 81-yard touchdown run that Bielema was none to happy about following the game. Still the Badgers admittedly played their best game of the season.
In addition to the defense's dominance, Wisconsin's offense gained a season-high 645 yards of total offense. Stave was decent again going 12-21 passing, for 178 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
“There’s obviously room for improvement, but I think we did take a step forward this week," said Stave.