UW Health Sports Medicine 

Lucas at Large: Ross-Ade revisited

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One of the most stunning comebacks in UW history took place on the PAT (Prescription Athletic Turf) of Ross-Ade Stadium during the 1982 season.  Purdue coach Leon Burtnett was so shocked by the turn of events he said afterward, "This was the worst loss I've ever been associated with in coaching."

Remember, this was pre-Kyle Orton, pre-Scott Starks, pre-Joe Tiller.

This was Oct. 2, 1982. And many in the crowd (69,131) began heading for the exits after the Boilermakers grabbed a 31-23 lead with 2:24 remaining, even though it was still a one-possession game.

Taking the cue from today's high-octane Quack Attack (the Oregon offense), UW quarterback Randy Wright drove the Badgers 70 yards in 55 seconds for a touchdown that made it 31-29.

But the two-point conversion failed. And many more Purdue fans got up and left after the Boilermakers recovered the subsequent on-side kick at their own 47-yard line.

Defensively, the Badgers stiffened on first and second down, but they were now out of timeouts. On third down, Purdue quarterback Scott Campbell tried to execute a simple roll-out which was designed to eat up more precious seconds. He was supposed to fall down in-bounds.

But he kept rolling and rolling ...

Campbell unconsciously rolled all the way to the boundary and Kyle Borland shoved him out of bounds stopping the clock. That forced a Purdue punt.

Standing on his own 26, Matt Kinzer called for the ball, but it was snapped over his head. Kinzer chased it down, picked it up, and got off a lame kick that was deflected by UW cornerback Clint Sims into the hands of linebacker Jim Melka, a converted running back.

Melka sprinted 30 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

"It was a miracle come true," said Sims, reflecting on how the Badgers had scored twice within the final 89 seconds to rally for the improbable victory, 34-31.

That also would be the operative word - improbable - for the 2004 game between the Badgers and the Boilermakers, one of three straight memorable encounters at Ross-Ade Stadium.

Oct. 21, 2006: Wisconsin 24, Purdue 3
The Boilermakers were leading the Big Ten in third down efficiency, converting on nearly 50 percent of their attempts. But the UW defense was more than up to the challenge. Especially after holding its first seven opponents under 28 percent on "money" downs.

The result?

For only the second time in Joe Tiller's 118 games at Purdue - and first since 2003 - his signature "Basketball on Grass" offense was held to only three points. "It was a combination of them being a good football team and we needed to be perfect, and we were not," Tiller said.

The Boilermakers came up empty on third down in the second half (0-for-5) and finished 3-for-14 overall. They were also 0-for-3 on fourth down. That accounted for their inability to sustain any offense. They finished with a season-low 286 yards, 185 less than they were averaging.

Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter threw for just 176 yards, 140 below his average.

Offensively, the Badgers had 12 "explosives" - runs of 12 or more yards, or passes of 16 or more yards. That was a season high. Tailback P.J. Hill rushed for 161 yards, including a 46-yard run.

Early in the fourth quarter, UW coach Bret Bielema called for a fake punt. Ken DeBauche, the punter, did his part. Decoying the defense, he rolled to his right and launched a perfect throw across the field to a wide-open Jonathan Casillas, who dropped the ball.

Casillas later got some redemption by intercepting a Painter pass for his first career pick.

Oct. 16, 2004: Wisconsin 20, Purdue 17
Football fans wanting a playoff have forever been critical of the BCS.

Badger fans have an entirely different perspective of this BCS.

Blessed and Clutch Starks.

That would be Scott Starks, who added another chapter to the legend of the No. 2 jersey (previously worn by Jamar Fletcher, who had interception returns for touchdowns against Purdue quarterback Drew Brees in each of the UW's victories over the Boilers in 1998 and 1999).

Now it was Kyle Orton's turn to feel the wrath of No. 2.

When time was called with 2 minutes and 49 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Boilers were one first down away from sealing a 17-14 win over Wisconsin. When play resumed, Orton called his own number on a third-and-2 from the PU 37-yard line.

As Orton turned the corner and headed upfield, Starks went low hoping to get a piece of the ball. Instead of sliding, Orton thought he was close enough to pick up the first down. Instead, he got helicoptered and sandwiched between Starks and UW safety Robert Brooks, and the ball came out.

Scoop and score.

Starks scooped up the ball and scored on a 40-yard fumble recovery that will be replayed for generations by Badger fans. "A lot of us on the sidelines were praying for something to bounce our way, and something did," said offensive tackle Morgan Davis.

But there were still some anxious moments after Purdue blocked the extra point and drove into field goal position for its normally reliable placekicker, Ben Jones, who had beaten the Badgers with a clutch kick the year before. Jones, though, pushed his 42-yard attempt wide right.

After watching his team rally from a 17-7 fourth quarter deficit, UW head coach Barry Alvarez confessed, "I've been in this racket a long time, but I don't know if I've ever been in a game like that."

It turned out to be a costly victory for the Badgers, who lost defensive end Erasmus James with an ankle injury. James had been unblockable in the first half against Purdue.

On the first series of the third quarter, tight end Charles Davis drove his helmet and shoulder into James' lower leg on the backside of a running play to the opposite side of the formation.

Cut blocking, or blocking below the waist, is legal on the line of scrimmage.

James was never the same after the injury. And neither was the UW defense.

Nov. 6, 1999: Wisconsin 28, Purdue 21
Ron Dayne vs. Drew Brees.

That's how the game was billed.

Heisman candidate vs. Heisman candidate.

Dayne rushed 32 times for 222 yards.

Brees completed 36-of-64 passes for 350 yards.

Dayne's 41-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter may have clinched him the Heisman. It was his 17th career run of 40 or more yards and his 69th career touchdown, a Big Ten record.

In a show of class and sportsmanship, Brees congratulated Dayne on the field after the game and later said, "He had a great day today. I think he deserves the Heisman."

That was seconded by UW coach Barry Alvarez, who noted, "Anybody who watched this game on TV, if they didn't have an opportunity to see the greatest back in the country, I don't know what they were watching. And if every Heisman voter wasn't influenced, there's something wrong."


That was the number of yards that Dayne needed to get in the final game of the regular season against Iowa to break Ricky Williams' career rushing record. I think you know how this one ended.

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My wife and I were at the '82 with the Melka run. We were on our way back from a trip out East planning on catching the game that day. There was a groan in the stadium when Campbell went out of bounds and the clock stopped. The punt return came so fast we we barely saw it happen and it was unbelieveable how fast things had turned. Never saw anything like it until the '05 Dome game vs. the Gophs with Casilles' block.

Will be at Ross Ade Saturday. Lookin for another shutout of PU.