MADISON, Wis. — Jonathan Taylor ran for 219 yards on 30 carries, including a 67-yard touchdown, and No. 7 Wisconsin relied on its stifling defense to overcome a three-turnover afternoon and beat Purdue 17-9 on Saturday.
Alex Hornibrook was 13 of 18 for 199 yards and a score but threw two interceptions for the Badgers, who held on to beat another division foe and take a commanding lead in the Big Ten West.
Defense saved the game for Wisconsin (6-0, 3-0).
Purdue (3-3, 1-2) drove from its 39 to the Wisconsin 10 before linebacker Leon Jacobs stepped in front of a sideline pass to Jackson Winthrop, staying inbounds for an interception with 8:14 left in the game.
The Badgers’ punishing ground game ran out the clock from there with a 16-play, 77-yard drive, getting 32 yards on two important carries from backup Garrett Groshek.
Wisconsin lost three turnovers and had a punt blocked but still managed to win because its defense held the Boilermakers to just three points over the four ensuing series.
The Badgers could have sealed the win much earlier, but the normally reliable Taylor fumbled at the Purdue 4 on the first play of the fourth quarter. The defense held again on that drive and forced another punt.
Purdue settled for three field goals, two from Spencer Evans.
Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley led Purdue with 12 tackles, while cornerback Da’Wan Hunte and defensive end Danny Ezechukwu each had interceptions.
The Purdue defense recovered nicely after giving up the long touchdown run to Taylor on the game’s opening drive. Receiver Danny Davis threw a key block on fellow freshman Taylor’s 67-yard scamper up the middle for a 7-0 lead with 13:35 left in the first quarter.
Davis left the game in the fourth quarter with a left leg injury.
Purdue: The fact that the Boilermakers hung around into the fourth quarter speaks volumes about how much the defense has improved in just one season under first-year coach Jeff Brohm. It was especially impressive given that Purdue played without linebacker and leading tackler T.J. McCollum (ankle/knee). Purdue had 12 takeaways coming into the game.
Wisconsin: The defense held up in the second half in spite of losing two key players. Starting inside linebacker T.J. Edwards was ejected for targeting with 18 seconds left in the second quarter, and defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk limped off the field in the first quarter with a left leg injury. But coordinator Jim Leonhard has depth and athleticism across the field.
Purdue: At Rutgers on Oct. 21.
Wisconsin: Hosts Maryland on Oct. 21 in a homecoming weekend game.