The Wisconsin Badgers left West Lafayette with an important road victory over the Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday in a crucial game in the Big Ten West Division. Through seven games, it feels like we haven’t seen Wisconsin’s best performance, which is concerning. If we have seen Wisconsin’s best performance, that’s even more concerning.

The Badgers were clearly the better team Saturday, and they finally pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 30-13 win to get above .500 for the first time all season at 4-3 (2-2 B1G). Wisconsin is one game behind Minnesota and Iowa, the co-leaders in the B1G West.

Before we turn the page to next week’s huge matchup against the Hawkeyes, let’s take one last look at what we saw from Wisconsin on Saturday.

Offense: C

Wisconsin fans should thank whoever mentioned Chez Mellusi as a scat back because he said that label bothered him, and that’s clear in how he has responded over the last few weeks. In Saturday’s game, he ran with aggression again and finished with 149 yards on 27 attempts with an extremely impressive run on a 20-yard score to give Wisconsin the lead in the third quarter. This is the fourth time Mellusi reached the 100-yard mark this season.

Braelon Allen became a significant part of the offense on Oct. 9 against Illinois and since then, he has rushed for more than 100 yards three games in a row. Against Purdue, he carried the ball 12 times for 140 yards with two touchdowns. Allen broke loose for a 70-yard gain to set up Mellusi’s touchdown two plays later.

Mellusi and Allen are in their first season in Madison. Whether it’s them getting adjusted to a bigger workload, improvement on the offensive line, weaker defensive competition or all of the above, the Badgers appear to have a fantastic rushing attack again.

With how well Wisconsin ran the ball, the Badgers didn’t make much of an effort to get the passing game going when it was clear they had an advantage over the Purdue defense. Graham Mertz completed his first 5 passes but had just 3 more attempts the rest of the game (all incomplete). His last completion came near the midway point of the second quarter. He threw for 52 yards and did not have a touchdown pass for the third straight week. It’s tough to bee too confident in this passing attack more than halfway through the regular season.

The low grade is largely because of turnovers once again. This is the main reason Wisconsin has three losses this season, and the Badgers continue to be careless with the ball.

Allen was fortunate to fumble the ball out of bounds near the goal line on the Badgers’ first touchdown drive, and he lost a fumble on the first play of their next drive, setting up a Purdue touchdown. Wisconsin came away with an interception but, on the ensuing drive, the Boilermakers took their only lead of the game when Mertz was crushed, and the ensuing fumble went the other way for a Purdue touchdown in the second quarter.

Wisconsin fumbled five times and only lost two. Meanwhile, the Badgers forced 5 turnovers, and the ensuing offensive possession went for negative yardage 4 times.

Defense: A+

Wisconsin’s defense continues to play at an extremely high level, and it’s especially impressive what this unit has done despite a lack of offensive success. The defense gets put into bad spots often, and it has done as well as Badgers fans could hope in limiting the damage.

One of the few areas to criticize in the Badgers defense had been a lack of turnovers forced. They came into the weekend tied for 122nd in the nation in takeaways per game. Wisconsin had forced 4 turnovers in 6 games. But Saturday, the Badgers created more takeaways than that with 3 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries.

Wisconsin’s front seven is the best unit on the field in just about every game and it’s a dominant group that gives up nothing on the ground. Purdue finished with minus-13 rushing yards. If you’re an offensive coordinator reading this, tear out any play that includes running up the middle against Wisconsin because it hasn’t worked all season. Leo Chenal had another huge game for the Badgers. He finished with 9 tackles including 5.5 that went for a loss with 3.5 sacks.

Purdue wide receiver David Bell came in as one of the top receivers in college football after a monster game against Iowa last week, but the Badgers made sure he did not beat them. Bell finished with his worst statistical performance of the season: 6 receptions for 33 yards without a touchdown.

Special Teams: B

Collin Larsh has been an underrated story for Wisconsin because he is quietly having a fantastic season on field goals. Kicker was a question mark before the season, but the only field goals that did not go through this season came on a blocked kick and one from 52 yards out. He was 3-for-3 on Saturday with a long of 43 yards and the senior also knocked in all three extra points.

Andy Vujnovich is a very good punter for Wisconsin. His 5 punts against Purdue went for an average of 45.4 yards with a long of 52, and 2 were downed inside the 20-yard line.

Chimere Dike handled the kickoff returns after Devin Chandler entered the transfer portal last week. The only notable item in the punt return game came when Dean Engram dropped a punt in the first quarter, but Hunter Wohler recovered it to avoid a costly turnover.