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Know Thy Opponent 2014: Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin is going to run the ball. A lot.

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

The series with Wisconsin has not been pretty since our last victory, all the way back in 2003. Here are the results:

2004: Wisconsin 20, Purdue 17 (a.k.a., the Fumble)

2005: Wisconsin 31, Purdue 20

2006: Wisconsin 24, Purdue 3

2009: Wisconsin 37, Purdue 0

2010: Wisconsin 34, Purdue 13

2011: Wisconsin 62, Purdue 17

2012: Wisconsin 38, Purdue 14

2013: Wisconsin 41, Purdue 10

The series has been very simple to dissect, too. The Badgers have very large men that manhandle our front seven and allow other strong, fast men to run the ball wherever they want to go. Usually the Badgers gain 200-300 yards on the ground with ease. Of late, it has been even worse, as they had 388 yards last season in a game that wasn't even as close as the final score suggested.

So what does that mean going into 2014? Wisconsin hasn't exactly gotten weaker, and nothing we have seen from Purdue in over a decade has given us reason to think this is the year that the dominance will end.

2013 Record: 9-4, 5-3 Big Ten

Bowl Result: Lost To South Carolina 34-24 in Capitol One Bowl

Blog Representation: Bucky's 5th Quarter

Series With Purdue: Wisconsin leads 43-29-8

Last Purdue win 10/18/2003 at Wisconsin 26-23

Last Wisconsin win: 9/21/2013 at Wisconsin 41-10

Last Season for the Badgers:

After going to three straight Rose Bowls as the Big Ten champion last season had to feel like a slight disappointment. The Badgers were good and even had a better overall record, but a controversial loss at Arizona State hurt things in the beginning and losses to Ohio State and Penn State had them in Orlando, where they lost to South Carolina.

The defense performed well with a pair of shutouts and four other games with less than 10 points given up. One of those was against arguably the most potent offense in the league in Indiana, who lost in Madison 51-3. They have a very tough game to start the year at a neutral site against LSU, but there is no reason they cannot contend for the West Division title with Nebraska.

Wisconsin Offense:

There are power run teams, then there is Wisconsin. The Badgers have barely even needed to attempt a pass against Purdue in recent seasons. Last year's 388 yard rushing performance was a step back to the 467 yards gained again the Boilers in 2012 and slightly better than the 364 given up in 2012. Lately it has not matter who the Wisconsin QB hands off to. Purdue has been completely and utterly unable to stop them.

Two of the guys who torched Purdue last season are back as Melvin Gordon (1,609 yards, 12 TDs), and Corey Clement (547 yards, 7 TDs) return. Both did what they wanted, when they wanted to last season against Purdue and we can likely expect each to have at least 10-15 carries. For years Wisconsin's M.O. has been to run until they are stopped, and we cannot stop them.

Not that it matters, but Joel Stave has settled the quarterback position and had a solid year with 2.494 yards and 22 scores against only 13 picks. He really doesn't need to do a whole lot, but when he is effective it makes a dangerous Wisconsin offense even better.

What will hurt is that the top four receivers have all departed, including safety valve tight end Jacob Pederson. Jordan Frederick caught 10 passes for 106 yards in 2013, but that leads those returning. That means 4-star freshman Dareiean Jenkins could see some early playing time.

Finally, there is that offensive line. First-Team all-Big Ten selection Ryan Groy is gone, but the other four starters return and are massive at at least 6'5", 315 pounds. Only Sam Voltz is an underclassman as a sophomore, and they allow the rest of the reserves to bulk up so they can be plugged into the system in 2015. The line gave up just 16 sacks of Stave, so he was well protected and as a team Wisconsin was eighth in the nation in rushing.

Wisconsin Defense:

The badgers should expect to take a step back with only Konrad Zagzebski back among the front four. The defensive end has a pair of tackles in Warren Herring and Bryce Gilbert returning with experience, but for the most part this is a new line.

The linebackers need to replace all three starters as well, and here is what SB Nation's big preview had to say:

The experience level plummets, but Wisconsin has recruited quite well along the line and linebacking corps. Four-star redshirt freshman Chikwe Obasih was a spring standout and could start, and there are nine other linemen and linebackers who were given either a four-star rating or the highest three-star rating by Vince Biegel made a couple of plays when afforded the opportunity last year, and it doesn't appear that size will be too much of an issue despite youth. There is potential everywhere you look, but almost nobody has proven much on the field.

Fortunately, there is a lot of experience back in the secondary. Sojourn Shelton had four interceptions as one of the Big Ten's better corners last season. Michael Caputo is a solid safety that does well in the middle of the field. The strong safety spot is up for grabs, but when three of the four starters comeback and only one in the front seven comes back it is easy to see that the secondary is the strength of the defense.

Wisconsin Special Teams:

Wisconsin is going to be very strong in Special teams. Jack Russell split tiem atplacekicker with Kyle French last season and should have the job solely this season after going 34 of 34 on extra points and 8 of 10 on field goals.

Drew Meyer struggled as the punter, but Kenzel Doe is back as one of the best kick and punt return men in the league. The senior averaged 26.5 yards per kick return and even took one back for a tocudhwon. In the punt return game he averaged 7.3 yards per return.

Game Outlook:

It really is as simple as stopping the run for Purdue to finally beat Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the Badgers have the longest active win streak of anyone in the Big Ten against us because we have been completely unable to stop the run. What makes it more frustrating is that we know it is coming. It's not like it has been a surprise that the Badgers are a power run team. We have played so poorly on run defense that it is comical.

That's all I can really say about this one. Until Purdue proves it can even slow down their excellent ground game it is not going to matter. The Badgers are going to win big. Wisconsin 45, Purdue 17.