MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Just when the Wisconsin Badgers were on
their heels, safety Roderick Rogers put everybody on their feet.
Rogers' 84-yard interception return for a touchdown ignited the
third-largest crowd to ever fill Camp Randall Stadium and swung the
momentum Wisconsin's way in the 19th-ranked Badgers' noisy 31-20
win over Purdue on Saturday.
"We always talk about being a spark and swinging the momentum
of the game and that swung it," said coach Barry Alvarez, whose
Badgers (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten) became bowl eligible in his farewell
Co-captain Brett Bell said it juiced up everybody decked out in
"It got crowd going, it got the offensive going, it got the
defense going," he said.
Cornerback Jake Ikegwuonu gave the 82,828 fans even more to
cheer about with his two interceptions, including a game-sealing
pickoff that he returned 62 yards for a score with 3:21 left.
In all, the Badgers' banged-up defense recorded five takeaways
and had 146 return yards off their three interceptions of redshirt
freshman Curtis Painter, who replaced junior starter Brandon Kirsch
at quarterback for Purdue (2-5, 0-4).
"You have a difficult time winning when you have five
turnovers," Purdue coach Joe Tiller said. "It's a problem when
they take two to the house on you."
Painter couldn't stop the Boilermakers' slide that has resulted
in the first five-game losing streak in Tiller's nine seasons at
Purdue. He was 23-of-44 for 212 yards and one TD -- with 3 seconds
Tiller wouldn't say who will be under center at Penn State next
"We'll figure that out next Saturday," he said.
Until midway through the third quarter, Painter did a masterful
job running the Boilermakers' spread option offense. They had
scored 13 straight points and were threatening again when Purdue
made the mistake that kept the Badgers atop the crowded field of
contenders in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin hadn't done anything on five straight offensive series
and was trailing 13-10 when Painter tried to throw over Rogers to
Dorien Bryant, who was second in the nation with 9.7 catches per
game but was held to one reception for 18 yards.
Rogers made a leaping interception and zigzagged his way
downfield, finding a clearing at midfield and trotting into the end
zone untouched with two teammates as escorts to give Wisconsin a
"Rod made a great pick on the ball, made some nice cuts, took
it to the house and really put momentum back in our favor,"
linebacker Andy Crooks said. "They were marching down the field.
If they would have scored they would have gone up 10. It was a huge
play. We never really lost momentum after that."
Tiller didn't think Rogers would score at first, but "when the
guy intercepts the ball and he takes off on that side of the field,
you've got a bunch of offensive guys chasing him. Once he reversed,
those offensive linemen aren't the greatest at changing direction
and chasing him down."
Tiller blamed Bryant for breaking outside when he was supposed
to bend the route inside. But Painter accepted the blame
nonetheless: "It wasn't his fault. I should have still made the
The recharged Badgers then forced a three-and-out and the
offense kept the momentum up by going 63 yards in three plays for
Running back Brian Calhoun, who had five catches for 78 yards
and two TDs, made it 24-13 when he took John Stocco's pass over the
middle, deked safety Brandon Whittington at the 15 and outraced
three defensive backs into the end zone.
Kory Sheets was about to put the Boilermakers back in the game
when he reeled off a 14-yard run only to see the ball pop out of
his arms and get smothered by defensive tackle Mike Newkirk on the
Badgers' 6 early in the fourth quarter.
Calhoun, who had a 23-yard TD reception in the first half, gave
the Boilermakers renewed hope, however, with his first fumble of
the year, which linebacker Stanford Keglar recovered at the
Wisconsin 36 with 3:37 remaining.
But on second down, Ikegwuonu stepped in front of his man and
went 62 yards to seal it.
"It's about as frustrating as it can get," Purdue defensive
tackle Brandon Villarreal said. "We held them to one offensive
touchdown in the second half. You take away the two defensive
touchdowns they scored and we end up winning the game."
Brandon Williams caught a 29-yard pass on the Badgers' first
drive, breaking Lee Evans' school record of 175 career catches and
becoming the first Wisconsin receiver to record 500 yards receiving
in four seasons.
Calhoun became the eighth 1,000-yard rusher in Badgers history
but he finished with just 62 yards on 20 carries.
"If you had told me before the game we'd hold him to under 100
yards, I'd have said we'd have a win," Villarreal said.