No. 13 Purdue ready to hit the road, first at Wisconsin

Updated: October 12, 2003, 5:18 PM ET

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue finished its longest homestand in 110 years with a four-game sweep.

Now comes the real test.

The 13th-ranked Boilermakers (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) play four of their last six games on the road, a stretch that starts next Saturday at No. 14 Wisconsin.

"It's fun," linebacker Niko Koutouvides said. "I don't think there's anything better than beating a Big Ten team at their place."

The road has been, at times, brutally cruel to the Boilermakers.

Although they finished last season by winning at Northwestern and Michigan State, they're just 3-5 on the road against Big Ten teams since their 2000 Rose Bowl season.

They've won just once at Wisconsin since 1988 and haven't won at Michigan, their opponent Oct. 25, since 1966.

But Purdue opens this year's stretch with a more positive perspective after a 28-14 victory Saturday over Penn State.

"We've won five in a row against five good opponents," quarterback Kyle Orton said. "We took care of our four-game homestand like we should and we've got a lot of momentum."

Right now, Purdue is one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten and perhaps the most complete, too.

They've won with huge offensive outputs, with a stifling defense and, on Saturday, with impeccable play from their special teams.

Anthony Chambers returned one punt 76 yards for a touchdown against Penn State, set up two other touchdowns with long returns, broke one school record and tied another.

If their early season success is any indication, the Boilermakers appear to have changed course.

They've already beaten a Top 25 team, Wake Forest, on the road. They've beaten an old nemesis, Notre Dame, and Penn State, the only Big Ten team Tiller and this year's senior class had not knocked off.

What they would like to do in the next few weeks is make a statement: Purdue is a Big Ten contender.

"At the beginning of every season, the seniors make a list of goals," running back Brandon Jones said. "One of our goals is to win on the road and we've got a big one in front of us."

But the Boilermakers also appear to have an old-school approach of strong running and stingy defense that might serve them well when they hit the road.

Jones replaced Jerod Void on Saturday and rushed a career-high 29 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns, his best performance in nearly a year.

That made him the third Purdue back to rush for 100 yards in the last four weeks, joining Void and Jerome Brooks. Void left Saturday's game with a sprained right ankle and it's uncertain whether he'll be available against Wisconsin (6-1, 3-0).

No problem.

Purdue's stifling defense has allowed just five touchdowns in the last five weeks and ranks among the nation's best.

How good is Purdue?

"I think Purdue is a good football team, the best one we've played to date," Penn State coach Joe Paterno said.

The Boilermakers say they are relishing the challenge of trying to win on the road.

"Now the fun starts," Koutouvides said. "This is what it's all about, right here. You've got to win on the road."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index