Preview and Predictions: Wisconsin at No. 25 Purdue

Riding a two-game winning streak, Wisconsin (3-3, 1-2) will look to keep things rolling against No. 25 Purdue (4-2, 2-1) on Saturday.

The Badgers have won 14-straight games over the Boilermakers, a streak that dates back to 1999. The two schools did not meet last season, but UW took the most recent matchup, a 45-24 victory in Madison in 2019.

The Boilermakers are coming off an impressive 24-7 upset win at No. 2 Iowa, ending the Hawkeyes' 12-game winning streak. PU also entered the Associated Press Top 25 this week on the heels of that monster victory. 

Meanwhile, the Badgers survived a bit of a scare from Army on Saturday, hanging on for a 20-14 victory. UW collected its second-straight win after defeating Illinois 24-0 on the road the week prior.

Can UW end its nine-game losing streak against ranked opponents? Badger247 breaks down Saturday's matchup and offers up our predictions...

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Preview and Predictions: Wisconsin at No. 25 Purdue

Where: Ross Ade Stadium (West Lafayette, Ind.)

When: 2 p.m. CT

TV: Big Ten Network

TV Crew: Brandon Gaudin, Matt Millen Rick Pizz0

Live Stream: Fox Sports Live

Radio: Badger Radio Network

Line: Wisconsin - 3.5

Series History: Wisconsin leads 59-20-8

Last Meeting: Wisconsin won 45-24 in 2019

Preview and Predictions: Wisconsin at No. 25 Purdue

4: Purdue is the fourth ranked opponent for UW in the first seven weeks of the season.

5: Paul Chryst is 5-0 all-time against the Boilermakers.

8: The Badgers have won eight straight games at Ross Ade Stadium, a run that dates back to 1999.

14: Wisconsin has won each of the last 14 meetings with Purdue.

50: UW's 50 wins over Purdue are the second most by a Boilermakers opponent all-time, trailing only Notre Dame (59).

Preview and Predictions: Wisconsin at No. 25 Purdue

Purdue wide receiver David Bell is coming off an incredible performance in last Saturday's win over Iowa. The junior logged 11 receptions for 240 yards and a touchdown in the Boilermakers' upset win over against the Hawkeyes.

Through five appearances, Bell has 38 receptions for 678 yards and four touchdowns, averaging nearly 18 yards per catch. Bell has recorded 100 yards receiving or more in four of those five outings.

Bell ranks fourth nationally in receiving yards per game (135.8) and first in the Big Ten Conference.

“He’s a playmaker,” UW senior cornerback Caesar Williams said. “They are going to get him the ball as many times as they can throughout the game. A guy that wants the ball that much, you have to take him out of the game.”

Preview and Predictions: Wisconsin at No. 25 Purdue

The last time Wisconsin faced a defensive end this talented, Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson pretty much wrecked UW's offense. Purdue's George Karlaftis has the potential to do the same.

In 21 career games for PU, Karlaftis has 24.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. Karlaftis has recorded a tackle for loss in all but one game this season. He also forced two fumbles and racked up eight hits on opposing quarterbacks in 2021.

According to Pro Football Focus, Karlaftis is able to generate a pressure on roughly 20 percent of the opposition's passing plays. Karlaftis is coming off a performance against Iowa where he generated a whopping 12 QB pressures on 32 snaps.

"You turn on the tape of their defense and you just see teams scheming him," UW defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard explained. "A lot of college football teams, 'We do what we do. It doesn't matter.'

"You see teams that don't do that versus anybody else and they're chipping him every play or they're running away from him. whatever the case may be. When you see guys that earn that type of respect you, know the type of player they are."

"Shockingly he still does, almost every single week finds a way to almost win the game for them. He's a guy you have to be aware of every play."

Preview and Predictions: Wisconsin at No. 25 Purdue

Each week, Wisconsin's offensive players continue to say the passing game is close to clicking. Saturdays have told a different story.

Eager to see the response of Chryst and the offensive staff after redshirt freshman wide receiver Devin Chandler walked away from the team mid-season and entered the transfer portal. Chandler voiced concerns over the lack of opportunities as a wide receiver in UW's offense, which throws the ball just 37 percent of the time.

"Being on the field and having to go drives, just straight up blocking -- we have dogs at our position. That's one thing Wisconsin is not really praised for, the receivers," said Chandler. "It's really confusing to me why we don't utilize anybody.

"It's frustrating."

Only 11 teams in college football throw the ball less than the Badgers. UW currently ranks No. 115 out of 130 FBS teams in passing offense (161.7 ypg). The Badgers' 6.3 yards per passing attempt also ranks No. 105 in the country.

Chryst has made it clear -- it takes all 11 guys in the passing game and that part of the offense hasn't earned his trust yet...and for good reason. Sophomore quarterback Graham Mertz has 10 total turnovers this season. UW's offensive line also ranks No. 107 in the country in pass blocking per Pro Football Focus.

However, even the players know, they can't run their way to a Big Ten West Division title this season and the offense has to start being more balanced.

"I don't think it's good enough at all to win the West," said senior wide receiver Danny Davis. "We have to bring a different type of offense to this game. We have to compliment the run and the pass. If we can do that, I think we have a great shot to win the West."

"I think we're real close. It's just a matter of going out there and executing."

Preview and Predictions: Wisconsin at No. 25 Purdue

After the first quarter of Purdue's win over Iowa, I thought to myself, 'Wisconsin is not beating this team.' While on paper, the Badgers have a much better chance than perhaps even the most pessimistic of fans would like to believe, still think UW comes up short. 

UW may run into some of the same problems that Iowa did last week.

This isn't your typical Boilermaker defense where you can run the ball and expect to win. PU is very respectable up front and ranks No. 30 in rushing defense. Like the Hawkeyes, the Badgers have a struggling quarterback and can't contain Karlaftis 1-on-1. It's gonna take multiple guys to take him out of the game and that leaves you vulnerable in other areas. 

On the other side of the ball, I do think UW will contain Bell better than the Hawkeyes did. Leonhard is not gonna let him go crazy. What concerns me is Purdue's ability to keep opposing defenses guessing. They use three quarterbacks, they get the ball out quickly and negate the pass rush, and they have plenty of receivers who can win and create easy pitch and catch throws. Against a secondary that doesn't challenge a lot of balls and is willing to give those things up as they often rely on the pass rush to get home, I think PU can move the ball against UW. 

This is a game where I think UW has to score some points. As good as the Badgers are defensively, they're not gonna flip the field with turnovers much and the secondary is vulnerable to breakdowns no matter who the opponent is. 

At this point in the season, I think you are what you are. I'll leave open the possibility that the Boilermakers have a letdown after such a huge win at Iowa. There's also a psychological advantage for UW, who's won 14-straight in this series. 

However, the offense just hasn't given me enough reason for optimism to pull out a win like this on the road.

Purdue 17 Wisconsin 14

Preview and Predictions: Wisconsin at No. 25 Purdue

Purdue is suddenly ranked 25th after taking down No. 2 Iowa on the road last weekend. Say what you will about the Boilermakers, who lost to Minnesota two weeks ago, but the Badgers will take a win against a ranked opponent. They’ve lost eight straight games against top-25 teams, including three times this season.

The Boilermakers have the second-best passing offense in the Big Ten Conference, and star wide receiver David Bell headlines that attack. He had an impressive 11-catch, 240-yard performance while scoring a touchdown against the Hawkeyes. He’s near the conference and nation in more than one major receiving category. He’ll be a challenge for the Badgers’ defense, which ranks second nationally. While UW has been solid against the pass this season — it ranks 9th nationally and first in the Big Ten — Penn State, Notre Dame and Michigan all connected on explosive passing plays in victories over the Badgers. A lot of that has to do with how dominant the Badgers have been against the run. Some of those teams avoided the run entirely.

Against a pass-heavy offense, the Badgers must put pressure on the quarterback often. That could lead to disruptive plays and turnovers. Purdue has given the ball away eight times this season, and it’s also surrendered 15 sacks.

For as silly as it sounds, the Badgers’ offense seems to have found some type of identity. That’s to limit costly mistakes and rely on a rushing attack that now features Chez Mellusi and freshman Braelon Allen, who’s come on recently. If the Badgers’ defense can force one or two turnovers to give the offense a shorter field, UW will win this game.

If it turns into an offensive slugfest with Purdue hitting big plays with Bell and others down the field, it’s hard to see UW winning this one. Graham Mertz won’t be able to keep up without making mistakes, based on what we’ve seen thus far.

I’ll take UW in a game that comes down to a Collin Larsh field goal at the end.

Wisconsin 20, Purdue 17