Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/5/11

‘Upset’ was the buzz word in the Big Ten today, but No. 20 Wisconsin left no room for that, running over Purdue, 62-17.

Northwestern beat No. 10 Nebraska, 28-25, Iowa beat No. 15 Michigan 24-16, and Minnesota nearly beat No. 17 Michigan State, but came up just short, losing 24-31.

None of the losers from those games are in the Leaders division with the Badgers, so none of the upsets helped them out too much. But they took care of what they could control by routing Purdue and took a step closer to regaining top standing in the conference.

Ball and fullback Brady Ewing (#34) were major parts of the Badger offense, which racked up 605 total yards.

Player of the Game: Montee Ball. The Badgers finally got back to doing what they do best, and ran the ball 54 times for 364 yards– a 6.7 yard average. Of that, Ball had 20 carries for a career-high 223 yards (11.2 ypc) and three touchdowns, all of which came in the first three and a half quarters as Wisconsin rested its starters when the game was in hand.  Ball played hard, just like he has all season, and found every hole the offensive line opened up for him. In any other season, with almost any other quarterback under center, Ball would get this many carries every game (he likely would’ve had around 30 if he had played the whole game). He’s a player the offense can be built around and he proved that today. One would think Paul Chryst would make more of an effort the rest of the season to rely on Ball, and mostly use Russell Wilson and the passing game to mix things up.

High Points:

– Russell Wilson had a solid day passing and running the ball. He was efficient, throwing for 205 yards and two touchdowns on 15-20 passing, and breathtaking, as he eluded Boilermaker defenders time after time to finish with 76 yards and a score on 10 carries.

– The Badgers’ top linebackers finally had a great game together. It’s usually been just one that’s shined while the other has had an average to below-average game, but today both Chris Borland and Mike Taylor performed well. Each had an interception of quarterback Caleb TerBush, and Borland added two forced fumbles, though neither was recovered by the Badgers. Borland led the team with 11 total tackles, while Taylor added nine.

– The defense played relatively well, and they were no doubt assisted by the offense’s domination of time of possession. The Badgers controlled the ball for 36 minutes and 43 seconds, while Purdue had it for just 23:17. This is a reversal of the two previous losses for Wisconsin, and the focus on the rushing attack led to more points for the offense and easier play for the defense.

Low Points:

The Badger defense was solid, but still susceptible to the big play.

– The special teams continue to disappoint. The kickoff team allowed returns of 74, 49, and 40. These returns led to 10 of Purdue’s points, making them the majority of the Boilermakers’ offensive success. Few defenses are good enough to recover from this bad of special teams, and the Wisconsin defense certainly hasn’t proved capable. There seems to be no improvement from week to week with the special teams and I imagine Bielema will be looking for a new special teams coordinator in the off-season (DeMontie Cross is in his first year in the position). Fans still see Bielema as the face of the special teams, so maybe he should bring someone in who has a different philosophy that could be more effective and remove the blame from himself.

– The game was actually close for the entire first quarter and some of the second, mainly because the defense had yet another miscommunication in the secondary that led to a score for the Boilermakers. TerBush threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to tight end Crosby Wright who was wide open over the middle of the field. The Badgers performed pretty well apart from that breakdown, but as we saw the last two weeks, just one mistake on one big play can lose the game.

The Badgers will play in Minnesota next Saturday and try to keep the Paul Bunyan Axe. Wisconsin hasn’t lost to Minnesota since 2003, but games between these two always seem to be close and the Gophers are coming off a near-upset of Michigan State.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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