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No. 7 Wisconsin and punishing run game host upstart Purdue

Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor (23) runs past a tackle attempt by Nebraska defensive back Lamar Jackson (21) during the first half in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Purdue (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) at No. 7 Wisconsin (5-0, 2-0), Saturday, 2:30 p.m. (BTN)

Line: Wisconsin by 17.

Series record: Wisconsin leads 47-29-8.


WHAT'S AT STAKE

Is Purdue for real? This game will provide a measuring stick of just how far the Boilermakers have come under first-year coach Jeff Brohm. They pulled away from Minnesota late for a confidence-boosting win. But the Badgers have a tendency to put teams away in the second half. Taking care of Purdue would put a virtual stranglehold on another West division title for the Badgers just midway through the season.


KEY MATCHUP

Purdue passing game vs. Wisconsin defense. The Badgers are going to get their rushing yards. So the best way to play keep-away is to build a lead and force Wisconsin to play from behind. Good luck. But the Boilermakers have to hope that their quarterback rotation of David Blough and Elijah Sindelar avoids turnovers and continues to spread the ball around against the Badgers' stout defense.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Purdue: LB Ja'Whaun Bentley. An important part of the Boilermakers' improved defense, Bentley has an interception return for a touchdown and two forced fumbles this year. Purdue will need to force turnovers to get a shot at an upset at Camp Randall Stadium.

Wisconsin: TE Troy Fumagalli. The senior playmaker has been relatively quiet of late with freshman RB Jonathan Taylor and young receivers emerging on offense. But Taylor is bound to draw more attention after rushing for 249 yards last week against Nebraska, which could open up play-action possibilities to the sure-handed Fumagalli.


FACTS & FIGURES

The Boilermakers have lost 11 straight to Wisconsin, last winning in 2003. ... Purdue is 19 of 20 in red-zone conversions. ... The Purdue defense is ranked 36th in scoring defense after finishing 117th last season. ... Taylor is fourth in the country in rushing (153.4 yards per game). ... QB Alex Hornibrook is first in the Big Ten in pass efficiency (167.2). ... Wisconsin's defense has outscored opposing offenses 18-14 in the second half of games.

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