WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -
In terms of a confidence boost, Wisconsin
's 38-14 victory over Purdue
was just the confidence boost junior tight end Jacob Pedersen
Combining for only three catches in the last four games, Pedersen, much like the rest of Wisconsin's offense, returned to form with a team-best 77 receiving yards and recording his first touchdown catch since week two in the first quarter to open Wisconsin's string of 38 straight points.
"I think it will do a lot," said Pedersen, who tied with receiver Jared Abbrederis for the team lead with four catches. "Hopefully I'll get my number called some more and start making some plays. I've got to keep it up, be consistent and that's the biggest thing for me."
It also helped Wisconsin to balance the offense from the beginning. Although Wisconsin's 467 rushing yards were the fifth most in school history, Wisconsin ran eight rushing plays and eight passing plays in the first 15 minutes, gaining 79 and 63 yards, respectively.
"Every aspect of the offense compliments itself," said Pedersen. "Montee and James had some big runs and that opened some stuff up for me. I was making plays when I was asked to."
Not only did UW coach Bret Bielema feel Saturday was Pedersen's best pass-catching game of the season, but his best blocking performance, as well.
"He did some good things in the run game," said Bielema. "That stuff will really show up in (the coach's film). Ped took it as a challenge and really prepared well this week."
Pedersen was also active in the running game, running an end around in the third quarter for a 10-yard gain, totaling 87 yards of total offense.
"I was joking with him during the course of the week, asking him why he was selected to run that play," said Bielema. "He claimed he was the fastest person in the Upper Peninsula. So he beat out 80 other people."
Tough Day for Kicks
A windy, cloudy afternoon turned into a rainy affair midway through the second quarter, making kicking an adventure for sophomore kicker Kyle French.
"It was pretty tough conditions out there," said Bielema. "French has been kicking the ball pretty … The guy has been hitting. Sometimes you have to weather the storm. It was pretty tough. I understand. I want to make them all, but that was a pretty difficult situation."
It appeared on French's first miss – a 44-yard try in the first quarter – that a low snap caused holder Stephen Salata to not get the laces of the football pointed toward the goal post. After hitting his second attempt from 30 yards into the wind and rain, French's third attempt was partially deflected by Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short, sending it wide left.
It was Short's sixth career blocked kick, a new school record.
"I felt like I hit the ball pretty well today," said French. "Obviously 1-for-3 on paper, but I felt I did pretty good today."
No Help from Michigan
Throwing a variety of different formations, play-action passes and jet formations at Purdue's defense, it was evident that Wisconsin was trying to spread out the Boilermakers in much the same way the Badgers have done throughout the first two weeks of conference play.
But even after Michigan rushed for 304 yards en route to putting up 44 points over Purdue the week before, Bielema and Wisconsin didn't attempt to direct copy the game plan.
"We don't have Denard out there," said Bielema, referring to Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson rushing for 235 yards in last week's victory. "I thought (offensive coordinator) Matt (Canada) did a nice job preparing the game plan and, obviously, it executed out there day."
Extra Points: Bielema did not have any updates on senior left tackle Ricky Wagner (right knee) or junior linebacker Ethan Armstrong (unknown), but didn't believe either injury was serious … Tyler Dippel (shoulder) and Robby Burge (right knee) did not make the trip, but are expected to be back at practice early next week … Bielema earned victory number 54 at Wisconsin, tying him with College Football Hall of Famer Phil King for second-most among UW head coached. Barry Alvarez has the most victory in school history with 118.
After being stymied in the passing game the previous four weeks, junior tight end Jacob Pedersen led Wisconsin in receiving yards in its win over Purdue.