Tiller turns back the clock
MADISON, Wis. -- Purdue coach Joe Tiller turned back the clock over the weekend.
First, he restored the potent passing attack to Purdue's offense in a 26-23 victory at Wisconsin on Saturday. And the Boilermakers jumped three spots to No. 10 in the poll Sunday.
It's the first time they've cracked the Top 10 since Nov. 5, 2000, when they were ranked ninth, Tiller's best showing since taking over the program in 1997.
Tiller turned quarterback Kyle Orton loose on the Badgers and he completed 38 of 55 passes for 411 yards as the Boilermakers (6-1, 3-0) won their sixth straight and joined Michigan State as the Big Ten's only remaining unbeaten teams.
The Badgers (6-2, 3-1), who slipped six spots to No. 20, swear they saw it coming.
"I kind of had a sense," Badgers coach Barry Alvarez said. "They saw that we're pretty good against the run and this kid is a good thrower. I didn't know we'd get that many (passes), but I anticipated that type of attack."
His players vouched for that.
"I wasn't surprised at all," cornerback Levonne Rowan said. "The coaches pounded it into our heads, they were going to pass."
Ready or not, the Badgers were slow to react.
They repeatedly got caught playing their base defense against multiple receiver sets as Orton completed his first 15 passes and built a 14-0 lead off two Wisconsin turnovers before the Badgers abandoned their soft zone coverage and flooded the field with extra defensive backs, played more man-to-man press coverage and ratcheted up the blitz.
Orton adjusted accordingly.
He threw the ball underneath the Badgers' zone coverage in the first half when they played off the receivers and took it deep when they packed the middle in the second half.
His tosses of 50 yards to Standeford and 36 yards to Ray Williams set up two fourth-quarter field goals by Ben Jones, including the game-winner from 18 yards out with three seconds left.
Even though Purdue ran 52 times against Arizona and 67 times against Illinois, Alvarez said he knew Orton was going to put the ball in the air like Drew Brees did at Camp Randall in 1998, when he threw an NCAA record 83 times.
But he didn't expect the Boilermakers to empty their backfield and send five receivers out so early and so often.
"We didn't know they were going to do it every snap, that they were going to throw every snap," Alvarez said. "But I think our guys adjusted very quickly."
Not quickly enough.
Tiller knew he had gotten the best of Alvarez.
After all, the Boilermakers had averaged nearly 200 yards rushing going into the game and they got just 66 Saturday.
"I think as a coach, sometimes it's valuable to be predictable in your unpredictability," Tiller said. "I think when a team draws a bead on you, this is the direction your team is going, that if you have the ability to reverse the course, you have a chance to make hay.
"We got on this plan early in the week and we stayed with it all week. By Tuesday we were throwing the ball all over the place."
On Saturday, too.
The Badgers lost more than their perfect conference mark. Starting quarterback Jim Sorgi was knocked out of the game in second half with an injury to his left knee.
And linebacker Al Lewis, who had a career-best five sacks and set a school record with six tackles for loss, injured his left arm.
Sorgi, who was on crutches on the sideline and unable to put weight on his leg, was scheduled for an MRI but the school said there would be no medical updates on any player until Monday.
If Sorgi is out, backup Matt Schabert, who replaced an injured Sorgi two weeks ago and led Wisconsin to an upset of defending national champion Ohio State, will make his first start Saturday at Northwestern.
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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