WEST LAFAYETTE, IND.—Considering much of the pregame hype surrounding the matchup between No. 5 Purdue and No. 10 Wisconsin involved the Badgers' defense and the Purdue offense, it was only fitting that one of the two determined the outcome of the game.
In Wisconsin's 20-17 win the Badger defense provided the decisive score. However, as it has throughout this season, the UW offense showed up when most needed to setup a remarkable come-from-behind win.
Down 17-7 with eight minutes left to play, the Badgers rallied behind quarterback John Stocco for a 7-play, 73-yard drive that took just 2:31. The drive culminated in a seven-yard touchdown pass from Stocco to tailback Booker Stanley, who stepped in for injured tailback Anthony Davis.
The pass from Stocco to Stanley was the momentum builder UW needed. The drive itself evoked visions of the Purdue offensive playbook. The Badgers passed on all seven plays in the drive and Stocco completed six of seven balls for the 73 yards and the score.
"I've never seen a Wisconsin quarterback march the ball down the field like that," Davis said.
The drive was a major step in the development of the young signal caller.
"I thought he was really crisp on that drive, he took us right down the field, he had pressure up the field," Alvarez said. "He was stepping up in the pocket, he saw the field well … he did a magnificent job to get us back in the game."
"John Stocco just did a fantastic job," offensive coordinator Brian White said. "Great composure, poise throughout the game and that was a big time drive. For a lot of teams it would have been easy to just pack it in. At 17-7, he went right down the field and scored a touchdown and put the pressure right back on them and that's what we wanted to do. John did a fantastic job and I'm really proud of him."
For the game, Stocco completed 17 of 32 passes for 211 yards, one touchdown and one interception. More important than his statistics were his poise and confidence in leading his teammates down the field when they desperately needed to put points on the board.
On a day when the Wisconsin rushing attack was held in check (30 attempts, 84 yards), the Badgers' passing game saved the day. Davis paced the team with 66 rushing yards and one touchdown before leaving the contest.
To the chagrin of the Boilermakers, Stanley was able to step in after not playing the last couple weeks and rush the ball five times for 14 yards and catch the all-important touchdown late in the game.
"I felt real good when I went out there," Stanley said. "I was into the game, the whole game, even on the sidelines. I was cheering on the team, talking to the guys and keeping everyone focused to win the game."
While much of the first half was a defensive battle, the Badgers were able to get on the scoreboard first following a 10-play, 78-yard drive over 4:21, capped by a six-yard Davis run.
UW did not score again until the Stanley touchdown late in the fourth, but the offensive output proved sufficient to win the game.
On the receiving end of many of Stocco's completions was wide receiver Brandon Williams. Williams tallied a season-high seven receptions for 84 yards, paying major dividends when it came time for the Badgers to move the chains.
For the game, the Badgers racked up a total 295 yards and only committed one turnover—an interception by Stocco at the beginning of the fourth quarter. But the quarterback's finish to the game unquestionably made up for that mistake.
"Stocco really stepped up his game," Williams said. "Last week he grew up, this week he took another huge step and he's playing very good right now and that's why we are winning these games."
UW offense thrives in the clutch
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