Following an opening-week blowout loss at Cincinnati, the Boilermakers looked to be in severe trouble after eking out a 20-14 win at home over FCS program Indiana State. Things looked a bit up for Purdue last week, as the Boilers were able to come within a touchdown of beating fierce rival (and ranked team) Notre Dame. A 21-point Irish fourth quarter secured a comeback victory for ND.
After blowout (and shutout) home wins over Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech to start the season, Wisconsin fell in controversial fashion on the road at Arizona State. The referees mistakenly neglected to blow the whistle after a Sun Devil defender interfered with the ball following a kneel by the Badgers, and Wisconsin was unable to get off the potential game-winning field goal before time expired.
Rankings and records: It's the Big Ten opener for both teams (indeed, the first conference game of the season in the B1G), and Wisconsin is 2-1 on the year after its bewildering loss at Arizona State, while Purdue limps in at 1-2. Wisconsin is ranked 24th in the AP Top 25 and dropped out of the Coaches' Poll after its defeat, and Purdue would barely garner votes in a top-80 poll.
Wisconsin holds a 43-29-8 advantage over Purdue in the historical rivalry, with the Badgers winning the last seven matchups and holding an 8-2 record in the last 10 games.
Vegas: Wisconsin is a 24-point favorite, per Odds Shark, with the line still rising; it opened at -21. The over-under opened at 48, which does not bode well for expectations of Purdue's offense.
Weather: It's football weather in Madison, as game time temperatures should be in the mid-60s under clear skies.
Three names to know
Watch Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon, but don't blink or you'll miss him. Gordon has averaged an absurd 12.9 yards per carry thus far, with 477 yards and four scores on just 37 rushes.
When the Badgers aren't busy running the ball, wide receiver Jared Abbrederis will hurt you deep. He's caught 16 passes for 271 yards (a 16.9 yard-per-catch average) with three touchdowns on the year.
Purdue defensive end Ryan Russell will be tasked with stopping the potent Wisconsin offense, and the junior already has four tackles for a loss and two sacks on the year.
Two things at stake
A Purdue victory might be too implausible to consider -- since 2003, 24-point underdogs are just 2-87. But it's worth seeing how the Boilermakers take on the Big Ten's best ground game to find out how far along the Purdue defense is this early in the rebuilding process.
As for Wisconsin, style points don't mean much to teams that aren't in the top five or so, but an early demonstration of dominance will be nice for fans; if the Badgers still have a hangover from their ridiculous loss to Arizona State, it could throw this game into needless jeopardy. If that's not the case and Wisconsin rolls (as it ought to), the opportunity to have backups get significant action in a Big Ten game will be a pleasant bonus for the program.
How to witness
TV: Purdue-Wisconsin will be on ABC and ESPN2 in a reverse mirror. No, reverse mirrors are not mirrors that show only vampires. That's an urban legend.
Online streaming: ESPN3 will stream the game.