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New coaches square off as Wisconsin chases 17th straight victory over Purdue

Luke Fickell wants to leave an imprint at Wisconsin. Ryan Walters would like to see Purdue repeated as Big Ten West champions.
Georgia Southern Wisconsin Football
Posted at 11:08 AM, Sep 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-21 12:08:43-04

Luke Fickell wants to leave an imprint at Wisconsin. Ryan Walters would like to see Purdue repeated as Big Ten West champions. Two of the four new Big Ten coaches will meet for the first time when Ross-Ade Stadium hosts its first Friday night conference prime-time game. Both teams are looking for a boost after mediocre non-conference starts. The Badgers lost their only road game but have won 16 straight in this series and nine in a row in West Lafayette, Indiana. The Boilermakers have lost their first two home games under Walters

Wisconsin (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) at Purdue (1-2, 0-0), Friday, 7 p.m. ET (FS1)

Line: Wisconsin by 5 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Wisconsin leads 52-29-8.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

This game will be the first head-to-head matchup between new Big Ten coaches. Luke Fickell wants to put his stamp on a Badgers program that's reached 21 straight bowl games, owns four West Division crowns and has more conference wins (54) than any team aside from Ohio State since 2014. Ryan Walters leads the defending West champs but needs to turn around an 0-2 home record to get the Boilermakers back on track.

KEY MATCHUP

Wisconsin's ground game vs. Purdue's run defense. Fickell has brought his version of the “Air Raid” to Madison, but, so far, it doesn't seem much has changed. RBs Chez Mellusi and Braelon Allen have a combined 523 yards and eight TDs through three games. Add QB Tanner Mordecai's two TD runs and the Badgers have a league best 10 TDs on the ground. The Boilermakers run defense has been inconsistent. It allowed 11 yards rushing at Virginia Tech two weeks ago, then gave up 271 yards and four TD runs to Syracuse QB Garrett Shrader last week.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wisconsin: S Hunter Wohler. The third-year player leads the Power Five with 26 solo tackles, ranks second in the Big Ten in total tackles (34) and shares the league lead in interceptions (two). He's already surpassed previous single season career bests in all three categories, and Wohler could capitalize on Purdue's mistakes — if they again struggle with turnovers.

Purdue: QB Hudson Card and RB Devin Mockobee. After the Boilermakers opened the season with no turnovers in their first two games, Card and Mockobee struggled with ball security last week. Card fumbled four times, losing three, and threw an interception. Mockobee was fortunate not to lose any of his three fumbles. Expect both to rebound in Week 3.

FACTS & FIGURES

Wisconsin has won 16 consecutive games in the series including nine straight in West Lafayette. Purdue's last win over the Badgers came in 2004 and its last home win came in 1997. It is the Boilermakers' longest active losing streak against a Big Ten foe ... This game marks the first time a conference game was played on a Friday night at Ross-Ade Stadium, which is celebrating its 100th season as Purdue's home field. ... Purdue CB Cam Allen picked off passes each of the past two weeks and now ranks third in school history with 12 career interceptions. ... Fickell has won nine of his last 10 road games with the only loss coming in Week 2 at Washington State.