Wisconsin possesses one of the best defensive units in the country. The Badgers are ranked second and third in the B1G in yards allowed and points yielded per game, respectively. They are also first in third-down defense, second in sacks and tied for third in takeaways in the conference.
But if the Wisconsin defense has one weakness, it has been against a spread offense with a running signal caller. That’s at least what Purdue coach Jeff Brohm says.
Brohm on Wisco defense: Has been hurt when you can spread them out and have a running QB.
— Tom Dienhart (@TomDienhart1) November 18, 2019
The stats mostly back up that claim. Wisconsin has given up more than 100 rushing yards just three times this season, and in two of those games, it came against a team with a dual-threat quarterback.
With Justin Fields and Adrian Martinez, Ohio State and Nebraska actually posted more than 250 rushing yards against the Wisconsin defense. Fields didn’t have all that much success himself, running for only 28 yards versus Wisconsin, but just the potential of him taking off to run seemed to hurt the Badgers. Last Saturday, Martinez registered 89 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Wisconsin defense.
So yes, the Badgers have struggled with stopping a running quarterback, but that’s not the only way to beat Wisconsin. Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters has just 69 rushing yards this season, yet the Fighting Illini also posted a 100-yard rushing day versus the Badgers. Furthermore, Illinois gave Wisconsin one of its two losses this year.
Purdue will have to hope the latter works again because the Boilermakers don’t have a signal caller with even 100 rushing yards this season.