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October 13, 2012
Danny Hope said Purdue's game against Wisconsin wasn't a make-or-break one.
He'll soon find out.
In a matchup many thought could decide the Leaders Division title, the Boilermakers were dominated.
Wisconsin racked up 645 yards of offense and limited Purdue to 252 in a 38-14 rout Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.
The Badgers (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) had a whopping 467 yards rushing that included a pair of 100-yard rushers (Montee Ball with 247, James White with 124).
And after scoring on their first drive - it was two plays for 53 yards - the Boilermakers (3-3, 0-2) didn't have another drive longer than 25 yards until the fourth quarter. Then, Purdue tacked on meaningless yards and points when Akeem Hunt raced for an 81-yard run against Wisconsin's backups.
Simply, in the most important game to this point of a promising season, Purdue didn't compete.
"We didn't play good football today in any phase of our game," Hope said. "Maybe there's an individual or two who may have played pretty well (Saturday), but I certainly didn't see it."
And next week Purdue heads to play Ohio State, perhaps the Big Ten's best team.
"We underperformed as a football team, and we're going to have to get that rectified and then play a lot better," Hope said. "It's a much longer shot (to win the Leaders Division) now.
"I'm very disappointed we didn't play better as a team. Sometimes things don't go right and it starts to snowball. The other team gets a bigger lead and they gain momentum. We lost momentum today several times throughout the course of the ballgame, and that was tough for our football team."
Somehow, the Boilermakers need to get their offense untracked.
Caleb TerBush started at quarterback, but after connecting on a deep pass on the game's first play and then sneaking it in from a yard out, his seven drives produced 30 yards. He finished 7-of-16 passing for 80 yards with an interception and was sacked three times.
Robert Marve got a chance late in the second quarter with Purdue down 17-7. His two drives went 35 yards on 11 plays, and he completed 3-of-9 passes for 43 yards and was sacked twice.
Rob Henry had the final four drives and was the quarterback when Hunt ran for the TD on the first play. Besides that drive, Henry-led drives produced 63 yards, and he completed just one of six passes.
None of the quarterbacks were made available to speak with reporters after the game.
It's a position Purdue needs more production from, Hope said. It's also a spot that will need help to perform better. The offensive line allowed five sacks and consistent pressure, and the receivers dropped several passes.
"I was not pleased with the quarterback performance (Saturday)," Hope said. "I was not pleased with the performance of the offensive line. I was not pleased with the performance of the wide receivers. I don't know if the running backs had a chance or not. We'll see it on film."
But it's not just about fixing what's wrong with the offense.
Purdue's defensive front, considered the strength of the team entering the season, consistently was manhandled, and Wisconsin's offensive linemen got to the second level to knock out more would-be tacklers.
And Ball and White took advantage of the big holes that were opened, slipping tackles, using cutbacks to evade defenders and then outrunning defenders for big gains.
"We didn't play good. It's that simple," said safety Landon Feichter, who had a team-high 12 tackles. "We didn't come out and execute the game plan. We missed too many tackles. We didn't play Purdue football.
"We didn't come out and play like men. Wisconsin ran all over us, and that's not acceptable."
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