Why Wisconsin wins, why Wisconsin loses Saturday at Purdue

·3 min read

Wisconsin enters a pivotal stretch of the season with a 3-3 overall record and 1-2 record in Big Ten play. The team still control’s its own destiny along with two others in the division, so a lot is still undecided in the division race.

Iowa seems to be the lead dog with a 3-1 record, though the Hawkeyes are not one of the three teams that can win out and qualify for Indianapolis. They need Wisconsin to defeat Purdue on Saturday. If that happens, October 30’s matchup between Iowa and Wisconsin will go a long way towards deciding the division.

Related: Wisconsin has changes at RB, TE in its Week 8 offensive depth chart

Purdue presents a tough matchup for the Badgers. That said, Wisconsin is favored to win its 15th straight contest against Purdue.

Here are the reasons why Wisconsin wins, or why Wisconsin loses on Saturday:

List

Five keys to a Wisconsin victory over Purdue on Saturday

Why Wisconsin wins...

They are able to run the football. It sounds basic and simple, but a lot of the team’s success will come down to whether the ground game is effective throughout an entire four quarters of football.

If the ground game works: George Karlaftis can be held in check, Graham Mertz doesn’t need to throw the ball for the team to win and the defense won’t be left out to dry.

Other things obviously need to play into this equation. Mertz needs to play a turnover-free game, the defense needs to eliminate David Bell’s inevitable explosion and special teams need to operate smoothly.

But this is a tough matchup for the Badgers on both sides of the ball. To win on offense means shutting Karlaftis down, running the ball effectively and taking care of the football. On defense, it means pressuring Aidan O’Connell (or Jack Plummer) into mistakes and keeping David Bell off the scoreboard.

If Wisconsin wins Saturday, it’s because of those reasons.

Why Wisconsin loses...

Because Purdue’s stars are too much to handle.

If Karlaftis is able to create a turnover or two, live in the backfield and make Graham Mertz’s life difficult, Wisconsin will have trouble sustaining drives. Pair that with Purdue’s solid overall defense and Wisconsin’s struggling offense, and you see why this is a tough matchup on that side of the ball.

Since Wisconsin’s defense is great against the run and is proving to be one of the best overall units in the country, Purdue’s offense will likely need to hit on splash plays to win the game.

But the Boilermakers have that guy in David Bell. He’s coming off an 11-catch, 240-yard, 1-touchdown performance against Iowa where the Hawkeyes had nothing close to an answer for him. If we see that same mismatch show up Saturday, Wisconsin will have trouble winning this game.

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