DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 13, 12:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ross-Ade Stadium (62,500) -- West Lafayette, Indiana. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Wisconsin 4-0, Purdue 3-1. Away Record: Wisconsin 0-2, Purdue 0-1. Neutral Record: Wisconsin 0-0, Purdue 0-0. Conference Record: Wisconsin 1-1, Purdue 0-1. Series Record: Wisconsin leads, 42-29-8.
GAME NOTES: The Wisconsin Badgers pay a visit to Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Indiana to take on the Purdue Boilermakers in a Big Ten Conference clash.
All four of Wisconsin's wins so far this season have come at home, whereas the team is winless in two road games. Both of those road games, however, were by a margin of three points against Oregon State and Nebraska. Overall, the Badgers have won three of their last four outings, including last week's 31-14 triumph over Illinois.
This is Homecoming weekend for the Boilermakers, who are playing their fifth home game already this season. Last week, they opened their Big Ten slate with a 44-13 setback to Michigan. Purdue could really use a win here before hitting the road for four of its next five.
Wisconsin holds a 42-29-8 lead in the all-time series and has won six straight meetings with the Boilermakers. Purdue's last home victory in the series came back in 1997.
Wisconsin enters the weekend ranked 88th in scoring offense (24.0 ppg) and 105th in total offense (328.9 ypg). What's more, the running game, which has been the team's calling card under coach Bret Bielema, is ranked 90th nationally and 11th in the conference. The good news is that Heisman candidate Montee Ball, who is nine rushing touchdowns shy of the NCAA career record, has looked strong since leaving the UTEP game with a head injury three weeks ago. In the two games since, Ball has rushed for 209 yards and five touchdowns. His two TDs last week came in the fourth quarter to help Wisconsin pull away. In fact, 96 of the Badgers' 173 rushing yards came in the final frame. Joel Stave threw for 254 yards and two scores in the victory.
Defensively, the Badgers limited Illinois to 287 total yards and took advantage of a few miscues by the opposition. The Fighting Illini turned the ball over twice and failed to recover an on-side kick. Wisconsin's defense also tightened the screws on key down and distances, limiting Wisconsin to 2- of-10 on third downs. Whereas the Badgers have been rather inconsistent on offense, the defense ranks in the top-third nationally in both yards allowed (338.0 ypg, 28th) and points allowed (19.2 ppg, 28th). Senior linebacker Mike Taylor paces the squad with 67 tackles, including 7.0 for loss. Chris Borland is next in line with 53 tackles in addition to two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.
Purdue's offense was never able to get going against Michigan, finishing with just 213 total yards. Quarterback Robert Marve returned to action for the first time since re-injuring his left knee at Notre Dame on Sept. 8. He finished the game 5-of-8 for 43 yards while Caleb TerBush saw most of the action, connecting on 16-of-25 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. The Boilermakers did convert 2-of-2 opportunities inside the red zone (1 TD, 1 FG) to improve their efficiency inside the 20 to 19-of-21 on the season (16 TDs, 3 FGs). O.J. Ross continued his stellar play, catching eight or more passes for the third time in five games this season (8 rec, 46 yds, TD). Ross has already caught a career-high 35 passes in five games this season (previous was 33 in 2011) and leads in receptions per game, at 7.0. Prior to this season, Ross had never caught more than five balls in a game, which he has done in all five games in 2012. Fellow wideout Antavian Edison has caught at least one pass in 26 straight games.
Against Michigan, Purdue's Kawann Short, an All-America candidate, led the team with eight tackles, including six solo stops and one for a loss. Short enters the weekend ranked third nationally amongst active FBS players in career tackles for loss (41.5) and is tied for 13th in career sacks (16.5). Safety Max Charlot notched a career-high seven tackles against the Wolverines, while Robert Maci added five solo stops, including two for losses, and forced a fumble. However, the Boilermakers simply had no answer for Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who ran for 235 yards and threw for another 105 yards and a TD.
To keep pace in this game, Purdue must find a way to stop Ball from racking up big chunks of yardage and controlling the clock. Given how much ease Michigan's Robinson found running lanes last week, that task may prove to be a tall order for the Boilermaker defense.