Author: Dan Vietor
© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
One monkey off Purdue's back. Purdue has had a long history of getting blown out by ranked teams on the road. On the other hand,Purdue has played well in Camp Randall. To figure out which Purdue was going to show up was the question of the day. Purdue did have an ace in the hole. This ace is that Wisconsin's defense plays strictly zone with a fair amount of blitzing. This means if you have a good short passing game, you should be able to move the ball almost at will against the Badgers. Drew Brees did it putting up record performances against Wisconsin. But can this Purdue team do it. This is a team that have moved totally away from the basketball on grass scenario. Orton hasn't played in a short pass offense. No one knew if Purdue would employ it or if Orton was up to the task. Well, we did and he was!!
1 W24 W24 1- 0 INT P41 W00 7-59 TD
1 W20 P23 4-57 fumble P30 W00 9-70 TD
1 W38 P00 6-62 TD P22/W38 10-41 INT
2 --- --- ---- INT ret TD P23 P14 3--9 punt
2 W48 W37 3--11 punt P25 W25 14-50 FG
2 W14 W45 8-31 fumble W43 W34 4- 9 downs
2 W34 W43 3- 9 punt P11 P10 1--1 half
3 P26 W02 18-72 FG
3 W29 P48 5-23 punt P26 P19 3--9 punt
3 W46 W34 3--12 punt P27 P48 5-21 punt
3 W07/W25 5-18 punt P44 P43 3--1 punt
4 W24 P07 10-69 FG P24 W08 6-68 FG
4 W43 P35 5-22 punt P28 P23 3--5 punt
4 --- --- ---- punt ret TD P17 W01 11-82 FG
4 W09 W09 1- 0 game
Wisconsin starts the game on their 24 yd line and decides immediately to go for the BIG play. Sorgi going for a wide open Lee Evans at the Purdue 35, underthrows him and Jacques Reeves intercepts the pass. Two yards further and it would have been a walk in Wisconsin TD but Purdue takes over at their 41. Immediately, Orton starts into a quick drop, short pass offense. He hits Stubblefield twice for 9 each and Standeford for 18 and 12 yds to the Wisconsin 10. He hits Stubblefield again to the 2 and Void runs around the left side for the easy TD to put Purdue up 7-0. This was the 7th straight game Purdue has scored in its first possession.
Wisconsin starts a nice drive of their own. After Purdue stops two Anthony Davis runs, Sorgi hits Evans for 45 yds down to the Purdue 35. Reeves this time is blanketing Evans and immediately drops him. Sorgi then scrambles for 12 to the Purdue 23 before a holding call sends the Badgers back. Sorgi then trips coming out of center and fumbles the ball and Purdue's Pollard falls on it. For the second time in two drives, Purdue gets a turnover. Orton starts up again. This time he completes to Standeford for 7. After a 15 yd Void run, he completes another to Standeford for 8. After Wisconsin forces a third and long, Orton completes an 11 yd pass to Kyle Ingraham for the first down to the Wisconsin 29. After a 9 yd pass to Standeford, Void is stuffed for no gain bringing up 3rd and 1. Rather than going for the run, Orton throws a pass to Jon Goldsberry for 14 yds to the Wisconsin 6. Orton then completes the drive with a 6 yd pass to a wide open Stubblefield in the right side of the endzone. Just that quickly, Purdue was up 14-0.
Not to be outdone in the quarter of no defense, Wisconsin again starts a solid drive. It starts when Brandon Williams runs the kickoff back 40 yds. Davis runs for 11 to near midfield. After Sorgi is sacked, setting up a 3rd and 11, Sorgi completes a 24 yd pass to Dwayne Smith to the Purdue 24. On the next play, Davis breaks a run and scampers into the endzone to make the score 14-7 Purdue late in the first quarter.
Purdue takes over at the 22 and again moves the ball into Wisconsin territory. Orton hits Stubblefield for 6 and Standeford for 13 to the 41. After a couple of short passes, Orton scrambles for the first down at the Wisconsin 45. Orton then hits Ingraham for 11 to the 34 but a false start and an incomplete forces a 3rd and 13 at the 37. Orton under a blitz is hit by JL Lewis as he starts to pass and Jeff Mack picks the ball out of mid air and runs it back 55 yds for a Wisconsin TD. After a shanked EP attempt that hits the upright no good, the score is 14-13 Purdue.
In little over one quarter, 27 points had been scored and Purdue had 170 yds of offense. Wisconsin had 120 yds of offense and it could have been more if Sorgi had hit Evans on the first play of the game. It definately didn't look like the low scoring game many expected going in. But in the second quarter, the defenses took over. A holding call stops a Purdue drive before it starts. Wisconsin gets the ball back near midfield but Sorgi is sacked twice and punts back to Purdue. Purdue then manages the only drive of the quarter. Starting at 25, Orton hits Stubblefield for 13 to the 38. After a sack, Orton hits Stubblefield for 10 and Ingraham for 9 for the first down at the Wisconsin 49. After three short passes and an incomplete, Orton runs for 9 for a first down at the Wisconsin 24. After Void rushes to the 15, Orton is sacked and Purdue is forced to kick a 42 yd FG to go up 17-13.
With 3 minutes to play in the half, Wisconsin tries to make something happen. After picking up a first down, Sorgi completes to Evans for 12 yds to the 37. After a sack, Sorgi completes to Owen Daniels for 10 setting up 3rd and short at the 45 but Daniels fumbles on the next play and Purdue takes over in Wisconsin territory. After two short passes set up a 3rd and 1, Purdue tries a flea-flicker but Orton throws it away forcing 4th down. Rather than kicking, Purdue tries a run to the left which is stopped for no gain and Purdue turns it over on downs. Purdue wastes good field position being only 10 yds from FG territory. On the next drive, Purdue's defense forces a 3 and out but Purdue gets away with a clear pass interference penalty that would have given Wisconsin the ball at the Purdue 40 but instead Wisconsin punts and Purdue is content to run the clock out to end the half.
The first half was first dominated by the offenses and then by the defenses. Wisconsin's pressure sacked Orton several times, getting an INT return for a score. Purdue had a 3 and out, 4 and out and a decent drive that was stopped for a FG. Wisconsin's defense kept them in the game holding Purdue to one FG in two potential scoring situations. Purdue's defense started putting pressure on Sorgi in the second quarter and Wisconsin had two 3 and outs and gets a fumble on the third possession. Wisconsin, who moved the ball at win in the first quarter never made it past midfield in the second.
Another thing Purdue has been good all season is moving the ball to open the second half. This game was no different. Purdue gets the opening kickoff and picks up where they left off in the first half. Orton completes a pass to Standeford for 9, then runs for 3 and then passes to Stubbleifield for 4 to the Purdue 42. Then on third down, Orton scrambles for 7 to get a first down and then runs for another 11 to the Wisconsin 40. After hitting Standeford on a pass, he runs for another 13 to the Wisconsin 20. Facing another 3rd and 1, Void runs up the middle for 4 to set up first and goal. On second down, a Wisconsin unsportsmanlike penalty gives Purdue its second first and goal, this time at the 3. After a run for no gain and an incomplete, the Badgers are hit for a pass interference penalty and Purdue gets its third first and goal, this time at the 2. Again, no gain on a first down run and the second down pass is incomplete. On third down, the pass to the left side is incomplete in what appeared to be an obvious pass interference penalty. This one was more blatant than the first but no call and Purdue is forced to kick a 20 yd FG to make the score 20-13. Purdue had 6 plays once it got its first 1st and goal but Wisconsin's defense held once again.
For the rest of the quarter, the defenses held. Wisconsin's next drive was highlighted by a big 20 yd completion to Evans but on the next play, Sorgi is hit on a short run and is knocked out of the game. His replacement, Matt Shabert, is sacked twice and Wisconsin is forced to punt. On Purdue's next drive, Wisconsin's pressure sacks Orton and Purdue punts on 4th and 17. Shabert is sacked again on the next Badger drive and Wisconsin punts on 4th and 22. On Purdue's next drive, Orton does complete a 22 yd pass to Standeford but the drive ends there. Purdue pins Wisconsin deep at the 9. After a couple of Davis runs gets them out of trouble, a holding penalty pushes them back setting up a 3rd and 23. Schabert hits Brandon White for 18 but Wisconsin is forced to punt. Purdue quickly goes 3 and out to start the fourth.
By now, its apparent the defenses are starting to wear down. After two quarters of little offense, the offenses start to move again in the fourth. Wisconsin's defense, which has been on the field for 28 of the first 45 minutes is really starting to feel it. Wisconsin starts up at their 24. After two Davis runs for a first down, Schabert hits Davis for 16 to the Purdue 46. Two plays later, Schabert hits Matt Bernstein for 28 yds to the Purdue 11. But with a chance for Wisconsin to tie the game, Purdue's defense stiffens and Wisconsin hits a 25 yd FG to make the score 20-16 five minutes into the fourth.
On Purdue's next drive, Orton airs it out to Standeford. Standeford catches the ball and runs into the endzone. In what appears to be a bad call, Standeford is called out at the Wisconsin 26. After a Stubblefield catch to the 13, Purdue is called for a face mask personal foul that pushes the ball back to the 28. Even though Orton has two nice runs for 10 each, its not enough to overcome the penalty and Jones hits his third FG of the day to put Purdue up 23-16.
Wisconsin not to be overdone, starts their next drive at their 43 thanks to a 38 yd Williams kickoff return. Schabert hits Williams for 10 for a first down at the Purdue 43. After two Davis runs sets up a 3rd and 2, Davis fumbles on the next play and Shaun Phillips recovers to stop another potential drive. But a holding call and a sack means Purdue will punt the ball back to Wisconsin giving them great field position. But they don't need it as Jim Leonhard returns the punt 64 yds for a TD to tie the game at 23 with just under 3 minutes to play. With Wisconsin moving the ball better than Purdue in the fourth, it seemed almost inevitable the game would be tied.
With the game on the line, it was time for Drew Brees to pull out one of his famous last minute drives. But this is 2003, with Kyle Orton who has really never been in this position. With only 2 of the last 8 drives going anywhere, Tiller, Chaney and Orton would have to pull a rabit out of their collective hats to not see this game go overtime... But wait. The last time Purdue played Wisconsin, Purdue blocked a long Wisconsin FG and ran it back for the game winner in OT so maybe its not all that bad. But Orton was up to the task. Starting at the 17, Orton hits Standeford for 9 and then 8 for a first down at the 34. Then he hits Stubblefield for 13 to the 47. But then two incompletes sets up a 3rd and 10. In a crucial test, Orton completes the pass to Stubblefield who gets 15 yds and the first down at the Wisconsin 38. In even a better test, Orton then throws up a bomb that Ray Williams catches over the shoulder at the Wisconsin 3. With under a minute to play, Tiller decides to run the clock down and set up mister reliable Ben Jones for the winning FG. Jones kicks the FG with 3 seconds left on the clock. Purdue now leads 26-23. A Hail Mary pass comes up incomplete for Schabert and the game ends.
This is a critical win for the Boilers who needed to shed some road fears. It was the first real test since the Bowling Green game and this time Purdue comes out the winner. Orton who in 26 games, had only thrown for over 300 yds twice (last year against Wake and two years ago against Washington St) threw for 411 yds on 38 of 55 passing. Orton who completed his first 15 passes and 26 of his first 31 had his best day as a Boiler. He did throw for 419 yds against Washington State but this was a more efficient game and he came through in the clutch more than once. Also, high on the game ball list was the two receivers. Standeford caught 14 passes for 184 yds. Stubblefield caught 16 for 130 and a TD. Orton also led Purdue in rushing going for 69 yds on 13 carries. Void ran 11 times for 44 yds. Purdue outgained Wisconsin 477 to 293 and held the ball for 36 and a half minutes which may have been a key factor in Wisconsin's inability to stop the last drive. For Wisconsin, Sorgi went 6-9 for 118 yds and an INT. Schabert went 5-9 for 78 yds. The Purdue defense kept Evans from killing them allowing him to catch only 3 passes for 76 yds and no TDs. Davis led Wisconsin in rushing with 96 yds on 18 carries. But the Purdue lead kept Wisconsin from pushing the running game like they wanted to. When Wisconsin passes more than 15 times in a game, they usually lose.
Purdue is now up front with Michigan State as the only two undefeated teams left in Big 10 play. But both have a brutal schedule left. Purdue still must play at Michigan and at Ohio State and faces a tough Iowa at home. MSU has Michigan in two weeks followed by road games against Ohio State and Wisconsin before finishing at home against Penn State. Wisconsin and Michigan are still in the race both with easier schedules than Purdue and Michigan State. The Purdue win makes it more difficult for the Badgers to win the conference outright. It looks unlikely anyone will finish 8-0 and its starting to look like a logjam at 6-2. If all the top teams win their home games, we end up with Purdue, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State all at 6-2. Minnesota ends up 5-3 and Iowa at 4-4. To win the conference outright, it appears that someone needs a BIG road win. Who is going to pull this off??