Brandon Williams became UWs all-time leader in career receptions and the Badger defense forced five turnovers en route to a 31-20 win over Purdue Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.
The win gave Wisconsin its 11th-consecutive home victory, the longest home winning streak in the modern era and the fifth-longest in the country.
Williams 29-yard catch on the first drive of the game gave him the milestone, passing Lee Evans. He finished with two catches for 40 yards on the day and now has 177 receptions for 2,361 yards in his career. Williams also become the first Wisconsin player to record at least 500 yards receiving in four different seasons.
Running back Brian Calhoun became the 18th 1,000-yard rusher in Wisconsin history with his 20-carry, 62-yard performance against the Boilermakers. He has 219 rushes for 1,021 yards on the season. Calhoun also tallied two touchdown receptions, his first two of the season. He has scored 16 touchdowns this season for the Badgers.
The Wisconsin defense also had a solid performance, forcing two fumbles and three interceptions, the most turnovers caused since 2002. The Badgers have caused 13 turnovers in the last four games.
Roderick Rogers 84-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter was his third interception of the season and his first career touchdown. Jack Ikegwuonu also had two picks on the day, including an 87-yard interception return for a score in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback John Stocco was 15-for-26 on the day for 217 yards and two touchdowns. Calhoun was the teams leading receiver with five catches for 78 yards.
After Purdue led 13-10 midway through the third quarter, Wisconsin outscored the Boilermakers 21-7 in the final 23 minutes to earn its fourth conference victory of 2005. Rogers 84-yard interception return game the Badgers a 17-13 lead with 4:33 to play in the third quarter. Following a Purdue punt, Calhoun would put Wisconsin up 24-13 after a 40-yard reception pass from Stocco.
Ikegwuonus second interception of the day resulted in a touchdown return to give the Badgers a 31-13 lead late in the fourth quarter.
In addition to his interception, Rogers also had three pass breakups and four tackles on the afternoon. Dontez Sanders led the UW defense with 11 tackles and Joe Stellmacher added 10.
The game was played before 82,828 fans, the third-largest crowd in Camp Randall history.
Wisconsin (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten) plays at Illinois next Saturday.
Roderick Rogers 84-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter was his third interception of the season and his first career touchdown. It was the Badgers first interception return for a TD since Andy Crooks scored on an 11-yard return vs. Georgia in the 2005 Outback Bowl. The 84-yard return was the fifth-longest in UW history and the longest since Jamar Fletcher had an 87-yard return vs. Indiana on Nov. 11, 2000 ... Jack Ikegwuonu had two interceptions, including a 62-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter ... Brian Calhoun became the 18th 1,000-yard rusher in Wisconsin history with his 20-carry, 62-yard performance today. On the season he has 219 rushes for 1,021 yards ... Calhoun had two touchdown catches today, his first two of the season. He had one touchdown reception in each of his two seasons at Colorado. He has scored 16 touchdowns this season ... John Stocco threw two touchdown passes, bringing his season total to 14. He has thrown 10 touchdowns in the last four games. Stocco is now tied for seventh on UWs single-season list (with Ron VanderKelen, 1962, and Brooks Bollinger, 2002). His 23 career TD passes tie him for sixth on Wisconsins all-time list (Neil Graff, 1969-71) ... Wisconsins defense forced five turnovers today, the most since recovering two fumbles and intercepting three passes vs. Illinois on Nov. 9, 2002. The Badgers have forced 13 turnovers in the four games ... With todays win Wisconsin now has seven on the season and is bowl-eligible.
Wisconsin Head Coach Barry Alvarez
Im very pleased with the win. I thought our defense played particularly well in the second half. The turnovers certainly were the key to the game. I really thought our secondary, our safeties in particular, Jack Ikegwuonu especially, the way they played, we contested a lot of balls that were thrown in there. The interception and score by Roderick was, thats one of the finer ones Ive seen. I really like the adjustments that the coaches made and how the kids played in the second half defensively. It was a different type game, I think, than anybody anticipated. Im pleased with the win. The guys fought hard. Thats a talented Purdue team. I know their record doesnt indicate that, but we had a lot of respect for them and you could see they played very hard.
On Roderick Rogers interception: I thought that swung the momentum. We always talk about being a spark and swinging the momentum of a game and that swung it. We were able to get the ball back and our offense responded to it. Theres no question that swung the game.
On Roderick Rogers confidence: I thought last week he showed confidence in his play. You can see how he carries himself, how he communicates out on the field. Youve seen that build as weve gone along.
On how he feels about his team: Well, every weeks different, Tom. Every match-up is different. I was proud of the way our coaches had them prepared. We were very patched-up as you knew all week. Some of our defensive linemen hadnt practiced all week and yet some of them played. Then you lose [Mark] Zalewski and some other guys who havent played all year have to go in and respond and play. So, with a patched-up outfit, I was very pleased how they played so I feel good about them today. Its an ebb and flow. Match-ups are different every week, but they responded today very well.
On Purdue running the option: We talked long and hard about what we would anticipate during this game, how would they try to attack us. My last thoughts were, you know what, theyre putting 500 yards up every game, theyre 14th in the country in total offense, theyre not going to change their offense. Theyre not going to go back and do what they did. They have a nice scheme that they believe in that option scheme. I didnt know whether the back-up quarterback ran it as much, we didnt see. We just didnt know. But we didnt anticipate that they would go away from their basic offense that theyve been running this year.
Wisconsin defensive back Brett Bell
On the defense: It feels good to bounce back like that the last couple of weeks and play well, especially with guys like Jack Ikegwuonu and guys like that to step it up. Its confidence like that that can pull you through the end of the season. Going through a week of practice and practicing really well and then carrying it over to the field and making big plays, its confidence. We havent scored any points as a defense all year so to be able to do that, what else can give you confidence like that
On changing things at halftime: We didnt change things really, just stayed with the same game plan, maybe a little more man in the second half, but other than that we were on the same page.
On (Roderick) Rogers interception: Coaches have emphasized since camp that the spark of the day was going to be a big thing. Obviously that was a huge play, it got the crowd going, the offense going, the defense going. It changed the game.
Wisconsin defensive lineman Nick Hayden
On challenging themselves personally after giving up 411 rushing yards last week: We just came into practice and said we had to buckle it down and start concentrating on what we all have to do and we showed that today.
On getting another win today: We came together and played well today which is what we needed to do. We needed to step up as a defense because you cant always count on the offense to win the game.
On getting a couple of turnovers today: That was great. We emphasized the turnovers all week and we came through in the end.
Wisconsin defensive back Joe Stellmacher
On getting turnovers: The confidence in our defense just builds and builds. We gave up a few rushing yards in the first half and then we get those couple interceptions and you can just feel the confidence build.
On not knowing who was going to start for Purdue: It didnt change our preparation at all. We knew that there was a chance of a first-time starter, and if that was the case we were going to try to rattle him a little bit, maybe give him a few different looks. I think we did that, we rattled him a little. Three picks today I believe so we did a good job.
On the defense building from this game: I hope we can. We did give up some plays rushing that we need to work on, but we did force some turnovers and make some other big plays, so those are the things that we need to just build on. Hopefully we will get some more confidence and just build on from what we did today.
Wisconsin Offensive Lineman Donovan Raiola
On the play of the defense: It was good to see the defense play like they did today. We know that offensively we have a lot to work on. We tried our best to really pick it up.
On starting the second-half of the season: Yeah, I can see that the end is near and Ive definitely been thinking about it. Im really just trying to take it all in.
On Roderick Rogers play: That play was huge and really swung the momentum. It was a really good feeling for those on the field and off.
Wisconsin Kicker Taylor Mehlhoff
On long field goals: After the 50-yarder I thought I hit it pretty well, but as it started to come down the wind really threw it to the side. Obviously the 47-yarder was a terrible kickI dont know what happened there. I think I was trying to drive it into the wind a little bit, tried doing too much with it. I should just stick with my mechanics. I have the leg to kick from there, so I shouldnt try to do more than I need to do.
On wind: This definitely wasnt the worst wind Ive had to deal with. Actually, the game at Northwestern was a lot windier than this. Like I said, the wind really threw the 50-yarder. I should have kicked it more to the left.
Wisconsin Linebacker Andy Crooks
On getting back on field: I think it took me a little while to get settled back in, but it felt great to be out there. I felt like I played a lot better in the second half than in the first.
On playing against a team in the spread: When they were motioning from the doubles to the two-backs, it was hard to get reads on them and figure out where they were going. I feel that in the second half our defense was playing better. They couldnt just run, they had to pass. We had some guys come up big against the pass. Our DBs played really well today.
On playing time: It was frustrating not getting in there for awhile, but it felt so great to get out there again today. Im ready to start playing some more football.
On Roderick Rogers play: That was such a huge turning point for the game. Rod made a great pick on the ball, made some nice cuts, took it to the house, and really put the momentum back in our favor. They were marching down the field. If they would have scored they would have gone up ten. It was a huge play. We never really lost momentum after that.
Purdue Head Coach Joe Tiller
Opening Statement: Its very difficult to win a game when you have five turnovers
Do you regret starting Curtis Painter No I dont. He is going to be a good player. There was one interception that went back for a touchdown that was not on the quarterback, it was on the receiver in terms of bending his route. Its the same thing that happened to [Brandon] Kirsch back at home against Iowa. He had in interception that wasnt his fault. He did a better job handling the offense, and the option as a whole better than we have all year. He will keep getting better as time goes on.
Is he your starter next week I dont know. Its Saturday. We will figure that out next Saturday.
What was the key to the game Well it really hurts when you have it taken to the house on you. Also, Curtis Painter had nothing to do with that fumble down there on the eight yard line going into score there. I think thats, as far as we are concerned, and in Purdues point of view, that was the most critical part of the game. I think that if we would have scored there, who knows what would have happened and who would have came out the winner. I think Painter did a lot of positive things out there, he was motivating his teammates, not bringing them down and overall he did a pretty good job today.
On Purdues Defense: We put a lot of pressure on them, and I think we are getting a little more confident with Ray Edwards at the corner. We feel that there are things that if we get healthy and we can pick up on defense we will be in an alright spot. We didnt play our best today, but we played pretty well, I was happy with the way our defense played.