MADISON, Wis. – Darrell Hazell’s coaching debut in a Big Ten game turned into a big bust.
Once again, Purdue got trampled by No. 24 Wisconsin.
Melvin Gordon ran for three touchdowns, James White added 145 yards rushing and a 70-yard score, and the Badgers’ 41-10 rout spoiled the conference opener for Purdue.
Wisconsin extended its winning streak in the series to eight. It had beaten the Boilermakers by an average of 32 points in their previous four games.
Gordon scored from 5 and 27 yards in the first half before capping the opening drive of the second half with a 15-yard touchdown run to give Wisconsin (3-1, 1-0) a 31-10 lead.
It got out of hand in the third quarter pretty quickly, said Hazell, in his first year at Purdue after coming from Kent State. We’ve got to take a long look at ourselves – coaches and players – and make sure we’re taking the correct steps to make sure our football team gets better.
Start with tackling.
Gordon and White form one of the top running back tandems in the country. But the Boilermakers also missed several tackles.
We had some unblocked guys a few times and you’ve got to wrap up against good backs. You’ve got to keep your head up, Hazell said. You’ve got to step to the ball carrier and you’ve got to wrap up, and we didn’t do a great job of that when the game was in the balance.
Quarterback Rob Henry’s 22-yard scramble for a score on what appeared to be a busted play provided one of the few highlights for the Boilermakers (1-3, 0-1). Henry finished 18 for 36 with 135 yards and an interception. He netted zero yards on seven carries.
Ricardo Allen intercepted an errant throw by Joel Stave and returned it to the Wisconsin 10 to put Purdue in good shape on its next drive.
But two running plays stalled, and Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland broke up the third-down pass to hold Purdue to a 24-yard field goal by Paul Griggs. That made it 14-10 early in the second quarter.
Still, maybe, just maybe, the Boilermakers were going to build on their near-upset Sept. 14 of Notre Dame before losing 31-24.
One big problem: Purdue couldn’t stop the run.
Gordon had 16 carries for 147 yards, his fourth-straight 100-yard game.
White’s 70-yard TD run on third down with 43 seconds left in the first quarter epitomized Purdue’s frustrating afternoon. White took the handoff to his right, made one cut to deke Anthony Brown before making another cut inside that froze defensive back Taylor Richards for an unhindered path to the end zone and a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
We were in the game in the first half. When the second half came, we have to find a way to win. We came out a little bit low and they ganged up on us in the third quarter, Richards said. We have to come out in the second half and find a way to win.
Gordon’s 27-yard scoring run sapped Purdue momentum after Griggs’ field goal to put Wisconsin back up by 11.
Gordon followed with his 15-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.
Allen later left the game with what appeared to be a right leg injury.
Overall, Purdue’s running game was nonexistent again, with Akeem Hunt gaining just 31 yards on nine carries.