After the biggest win for the program in almost three years, the Boilermakers drop yet another game to Wisconsin by a score of 30 to 13.
This game was probably the most frustrating of the season for Purdue fans to watch. It was the program’s best chance to beat the Badgers since 2003 and they let it slip away. Everyone in college football knows what Wisconsin’s plan is on offense, and Purdue did nothing to stop them.
Heading into this game, Purdue had given up 116.3 rushing yards per game through six games, today they were throttled for 293 yards on the ground. Wisconsin officially finished with 51 rushing attempts compared to just 8 passing attempts. Yes, 51-8. There was no reason not to stack the box on every single play. Make an unproven quarterback who has a line of 2 touchdowns and 7 interceptions beat you.
Purdue’s defense has been exceptional this season, and it was just one of those days for them. One we were used to seeing in previous years, not this one. I think we can expect the defense to get back to how they had been up to this point next week against Nebraska, who has had major struggles.
Now, the issue that has plagued Purdue all season is the offense. It was no different tonight.
Just one week after 464 total yards of offense, Purdue followed it up with a measly output of 206 yards. It was the worst rushing game for the Boilermakers under Jeff Brohm with 24 attempts for -13 yards. Nothing Brohm was able to draw up worked, yet he tried it time and time again. Wisconsin was all over Purdue’s offensive line tonight.
The run-helping three-quarterback offense that had a decent level of success last week went largely abandoned until the third quarter. Aside from the few designed runs for Plummer and Burton, Purdue’s running backs got only 11 touches combined, totaling 21 yards. Obviously, that is not a recipe for winning. With Zander Horvath out and the current running backs not producing, why not take a chance on someone like Jackson Anthrop, TJ Sheffield, or another wide receiver to get snaps in the backfield?
Aidan O’Connell also had his worst game since taking over the reins from Jack Plummer. He finished with 200 yards, on 24-32 passing, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions. O’Connell has a live arm, but his decision-making and accuracy on the ball in tight windows have been his downfall all year. He has also struggled mightily against pressure, taking four sacks. Every time the pocket collapses he isn’t able to improvise and make something happen.
You do have to give Wisconsin credit too, as they took away David Bell today. Bell was bottled up for 6 catches and 33 yards.
Brohm said in the post-game press conference would not commit to making the quarterback job open after O’Connell’s terrible game. Many Purdue fans have been vocal about wanting Jack Plummer to have another opportunity since he lost the job.
It is worth discussing a change or bigger opportunity for the other two guys in the quarterback room. However, it is clear that Brohm and the offensive coaches heavily favor O’Connell’s bigger arm and ability to stretch the field over Plummer’s style.
The absolute lack of running game and struggling offensive line at times are much bigger problems in my opinion rather than at quarterback. There would be a benefit to having Plummer throw the football when he does come in for those read-option/quarterback run packages. After they were used last week, Wisconsin was more than prepared for them today.
It goes without saying, but Purdue needs to put this game behind them quickly. They travel to Nebraska next week to take on the 3-5 Cornhuskers, who have played teams like Michigan, Michigan State, and Oklahoma very tough. This is no easy win for the Boilermakers. Following Nebraska, they will face off against current top 10 squads in Michigan State at home followed by Ohio State on the road.
Purdue has the pieces to be a very successful team this year. As of right now, they are ranked 25th in the entire country so not all hope is lost. If the Boilermakers do not come out with a good win against Nebraska next week though, it could be a very depressing late fall and winter for Purdue fans.