Five Stars of the Game

Every game has stars. Here are the top five from Wisconsin's 26-23 loss to Purdue

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Number one: Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton—Orton completed an incredible 15 straight passes to start the game. In leading Purdue to touchdowns on its first two possessions, Orton completed all 11 of his throws for 110 yards and one touchdown. He completed 26 of 31 passes in the first half for 216 yards and of the passes that fell incomplete, three were dropped, one was thrown away and the other went off the fingertips of receiver John Standeford on a deep pass down the sideline. Orton was stymied for much of the second half, but he led the Boilermakers on an 11-play, 82-yard drive to win the game late in the fourth quarter. Orton finished 38-of-55 for 411 yards and one touchdown.

 

Number two: Wisconsin linebacker Alex Lewis—Lewis lined up at rush end frequently during this game and made the most of the opportunity, constantly beating Purdue freshman left tackle Mike Otto and junior right tackle Kelly Butler off the ball. Lewis' four second quarter sacks were the only thing that kept Kyle Orton from having his way with the Badgers defense. His forced fumble early in the second quarter led to a 55-yard touchdown return for Jeff Mack, bringing the Badgers within a point. Lewis finished with five sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss and nine total tackles.

 

Number three: Purdue kicker Ben Jones—Only one was from what can be considered a challenging distance, but Jones hit four field goals, including the game-winner with three seconds remaining. His kicks from 42, 20, 26 and the game-winner from 18 yards away were as big a difference as anything in this wild game.

 

Number four: Wisconsin punt returner Jim Leonhard—Trailing 23-16 late in the fourth quarter with an offense that has been enigmatic, Leonhard came up with a huge play, returning a punt 63 yards for a touchdown. Leonhard had come close to breaking free earlier in the game, but this time it took one broken tackle and a gutsy drive to the end zone. Leonhard finished with 99 punt return yards on three attempts.

 

Number five: Wisconsin linebacker Jeff Mack—Mack corralled the fumble Lewis forced and darted down field for a 55-yard touchdown. He also delivered plenty of fierce tackles and did a solid job setting up and calming down Wisconsin's defense after the team's early struggles and finished with 11 tackles, tied with Purdue free safety Stuart Schweigert for the game-high.

 

Honorable mention: This game was simply too big for five stars. Purdue receivers John Standeford (16 catches, 130 yards, one touchdown) and Taylor Stubblefield (14, 184) deserve mention here, as does Purdue defensive end Shaun Phillips (3.5 sacks, fumble recovery).


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