Purdue jumped into the national rankings for the 1st time in more than 14 years.

But it’ll last only a week. The (temporarily) No. 25 Boilermakers were swept out of Ross-Ade Stadium in the 2nd half Saturday, losing to unranked yet favored Wisconsin, 30-13.

Let’s grade the Boilermakers after the loss:

Passing offense

A week after turning in his best performance as a Purdue starter, Aidan O’Connell turned in his worst. The senior quarterback threw 3 interceptions, all the result of poor decisions compounded by poorer throws. A 4th turnover came after Payne Durham caught what appeared to be a reception for a 1st down only to fumble the ball away to the Badgers, a sequence that was originally called an interception but changed to a fumble.

O’Connell completed 24 of 32 passes, which is good, but the Boilermakers’ 219 total passing yards, the turnovers (backup QB Jack Plummer added a fumble later), the 6 demoralizing sacks, it was all bad. The Badgers largely curtailed David Bell, holding the All-America receiver to only 33 yards on 6 receptions.

Almost nothing worked.

O’Connell hit Durham on a nice touch pass in the red zone to tie the game at 7 early in the 2nd quarter, but it was Purdue’s only trip into the red zone. And it was by far O’Connell’s best throw. He had bad ones, like the final pick, when he scrambled out of pressure, an all-too-common occurrence, then tried to toss the ball ahead for a 1st down. But it was overthrown and intercepted. Earlier, he nearly threw a pick-6 on a late sideline pass, a potentially crushing play at the end of the 1st half. Luckily for him and the Boilermakers, the defense kept the Badgers out of the end zone after they took over inside the Purdue 5.

The Badgers overwhelmed the Boilermakers’ offensive line, especially early, setting a tone. It was a bad day for Purdue.

Grade: D-

Rushing offense

It’s unfair to include the sack yardage, so let’s take it out.

All right: Purdue rushed for 38 yards on 18 carries, which is simply not good enough. Add the sack yardage back in, and the day was downright embarrassing; then, the Boilermakers finished with negative-13 yards overall on 24 attempts.

Lead back King Doerue had 20 yards on 9 attempts, the best a 7-yarder and the second-best a 6-yarder, meaning he had only 7 on the other 7 carries.

And then, Purdue was still using a play-action passing game late, as if Wisconsin was biting at all on the fake runs. Yeah, no chance.

Grade: F


Purdue scored 7 points on offense, had 206 yards, was only 3-of-12 on 3rd down and had 5 turnovers.

Sometimes, the numbers don’t lie.

But there was other frustration. Purdue ran a couple of gadget plays, to absolutely no success at all. It’s hard to run a flea-flicker when the defense doesn’t respect the offense’s ability to run, yet the Boilermakers tried it. The play resulted in a sack. And Jeff Brohm put all 3 of Purdue’s quarterbacks on the field at the same time; the play was busted and resulted in a loss.

Grade: F

Passing defense

Graham Mertz attempted only 2 passes in the second half, missing both.

Not like it mattered, however, with the Badgers extending their lead, then hanging on easily. Mertz finished with 52 yards on 5-of-8 passing. He was sacked twice, including by George Karlaftis in the 2nd quarter, when the Purdue D-end forced a fumble, then returned it 56 yards for a touchdown. Redshirt freshman Kydran Jenkins had the 2nd sack, killing a drive early in the 2nd half.

Mertz’s long pass was only 17 yards.

Grade: A

Rushing defense

Wisconsin had 2 rushers with at least 140 yards in Chez Mellusi and Braelon Allen, who went for 149 and 140 yards, respectively. It was part of a day in which the Boilermakers gave up 290 rushing yards, 5.7 yards per attempt and 3 touchdowns. But look, this wasn’t all on the Boilermakers’ defense.

Especially in the 2nd half, with the offense failing to move the ball and turning it over, the defense wore down. Still, it’s not without fault; midway through the 3rd quarter, the Boilermakers lost perimeter contain on Allen, watching him run 70 yards up the right sideline before being chased down by Cam Allen. Two plays later, the Badgers scored on Mellusi’s 20-yard bust. Wisconsin had taken the lead on a 3-play, 94-yard drive, all running plays.

That seemed to be the backbreaker for the Boilermakers, who lost all momentum. Once the Badgers had the lead, they could lean even more heavily on the running game.

Late in the 1st quarter, Purdue did pick up 1 of its 2 fumble recoveries, when Cam Allen picked up a fumble by Braelon Allen that was forced by Jamari Brown.

Grade: F


Purdue had positives defensively, especially in the 1st half when its efforts kept the Boilermakers in the game. Karlaftis scored to give Purdue a lead, then the unit had an incredible defensive stand after Wisconsin had taken over at the 1. It dumped Mellusi twice, then dropped Kendric Pryor for a 3-yard loss. Wisconsin had to settle for a game-tying field goal at the end of the half, rather than heading to the locker room with a lead.

But the defense tired in the 2nd half.

For as great as it has been, it can’t be expected to work miracles when the offense is stagnant.

Grade: C+

Special teams

Mitchell Fineran missed the extra point following Karlaftis’ turnover, a play that looked like it could have had a big impact but turned out to be relatively meaningless.

Punter Jack Ansell had a solid day, averaging 41 yards on his 5 attempts. One of them was fumbled by the Wisconsin return man, but the Badgers recovered after it initially looked like Purdue’s Allen had a chance.

Grade: B-


After hitting all the right notes at Iowa last week, Brohm struggled to connect against Wisconsin, and again it has Purdue looking like a 1-hit wonder rather than a team capable of putting together consistent efforts week to week.

The Boilermakers couldn’t find much offensively that worked, being beaten up on the line of scrimmage, then committing turnovers. And the quarterback shuffle that seemed effective vs. the Hawkeyes was not against the Badgers. There seemed like no reason why O’Connell or Plummer was in, or 3rd-stringer Austin Burton.

Grade: D


Purdue had a chance to validate its win over Iowa with another one vs. Wisconsin, and perhaps declare that it was a contender in the Big Ten West.

Instead, the Boilermakers laid an egg and now need to go back to figure out what is ailing their offense, because it’s now 3 of the last 4 games in which Purdue has scored only 13 points. And Saturday, 6 of those came off a defensive touchdown.

Grade: D