WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Wisconsin freshman running back Braelon Allen figures the Badgers got back to their their strengths.
Graham Mertz completed just 5 of 8 passes for 52 yards. But it didn’t matter with the Badgers running for 290 yards on 51 carries.
Chez Mellusi ran for 149 yards and a touchdown and Allen had 140 yards and two scores to help Wisconsin beat No. 25 Purdue 30-13 on Saturday.
Mellusi and Allen both had career highs for yards, with Mellusi carrying 27 carries and Allen 12 for the Badgers (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten) .
Wisconsin has won 15 straight against Purdue (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten).
Allen fumbled in the first quarter but was able to gather himself.
“Everyone was coming up to me and telling me to keep my head up,” Allen said. “I knew I had to bounce back, forget about it and hold on to the football.”
Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said it was a matter of doing whatever would move the football.
“We weren’t great on third down and we got to be better there, but the running game was going and the way our defense was playing, if we can continue to do that, I thought that might be best,” Chryst said.
The Boilermakers took a 13-10 lead on defensive end George Karlaftis’ 56-yard fumble return with 6:13 left in the second second quarter.
John Torchio intercepted Aidan O’Connell’s pass and returned it 37 yards to the 1. However, Mellusi was stopped for no gain and quarterback Kendric Pryor had a 3-yard loss on third down. Collin Larsh made a 23-yard field goal to tie it at 13.
The Badgers took the lead for good at 20-13 on Mellusi’s 20-yard run. Allen’s 70-yard run set up the touchdown, putting the ball on the 24.
Wisconsin pushed it to 27-13 on Allen’s 14-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Larsh added a 43-yard field goal.
“We have a great 1-2 punch,” Allen said. “He had a long run that I ended up punching in and he punched it my long run. We complement each other well.”
O’Connell completed 24 of 32 passes for 200 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions, and Jake Plummer was 3 of 6 for 19 yards.
“Aidan is an aggressive passer and tries to fit it into a tight window and those windows weren’t big enough,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “They were a lot of disappointing things that happened, starting with myself and continuing to a lot of things. We didn’t take care of the ball.”
Brohm said said he will evaluate the quarterback situation again this week.
“Aidan has done some good things overall,” Brohm said. “It was not a good day for him. Our quarterback has to do a better job. I got to coach better. We got to block better. Our offensive line has to block better. We can’t put it all on the quarterback but throwing interceptions can’t happen.”
Entering the game, Wisconsin was third in the nation in rushing defense allowed at 64.3 yards per game. The Badgers limited Purdue to minus-13 on 24 attempts. In stark contrast, the Badgers finished with 290 rushing yards. Purdue had three interceptions, all by O’Connell, and lost two fumbles. Wisconsin lost two fumbles.
Following 11 catches for 240 yards, Purdue receiver David Bell had just six catches for 33 yards. He had three catches for nine yards until late in the third quarter.
“They got up in his face and they challenged him,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “It probably wasn’t one of his better days. We tried to throw it to him at times and whether he was not getting open or the protection was not last long enough or we weren’t finding him. So it was a combination of a lot of things.”
After being ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since the 2007 season after upsetting then-No. 2 Iowa 24-7 in Iowa City on Oct. 16, Purdue will make a quick exit. At 4-3, Wisconsin is unlikely to move into the Top 25. The Badgers were ranked No. 15 in the preseason.
Wisconsin: Hosts No. 11 Iowa on Saturday.
Purdue: At Nebraska on Saturday.