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September 17, 2013

Badgers preparing for Purdue





MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Badgers got back to work on Monday and Tuesday after a disappointing loss to Arizona State, because it's all they can do at this point.

The Pac-12 Conference issued a statement on Monday saying that their officiating crew mishandled the game's final seconds, but the No. 24 Badgers don't have time to linger on what could have been. Their Big Ten schedule kicks off a week earlier than usual this year, with the Purdue Boilermakers (1-2, 0-0 Big Ten) looking to end a seven-game losing streak to the Badgers that dates back to 2004.

Purdue's last win over the Badgers came almost a decade ago in 2003 at Camp Randall Stadium. The Boilermakers have gone through three coaching changes since that 26-23 win, and have lost the seven games since then by an average of just under 24 points. The series has been gotten more ugly recently- the two teams didn't meet in 2007 or 2008, and the Badgers have bumped up their average margin of victory to about 32 points in their four games since 2009.

But the Badgers aren't going to focus on games long past any more than they can let themselves linger over the final 18 seconds of their game against Arizona State.

"It's not necessarily about what happened in years past- we're focused on what we need to do this year," sophomore quarterback Joel Stave said Tuesday. "We want to continue that streak, and to do that we're going to have to play hard and prepare well."

Stave and the Badgers will have to contend with a Purdue defense that's been around the block, but has looked shaky at times this season. The Boilermakers have allowed 3.31 yards per carry on the ground and 7.5 yards per attempt through the air, but the Badgers see a front seven full of familiar faces that's looking to cause some confusion when the Badgers have the ball.

"They have a lot of the same guys," senior guard Ryan Groy said. "Bruce Gaston is back and their defensive line moves a lot. They rock the front a lot, a lot of twist games and stuff like that. They're solid up front- it will be a good challenge for us."

Part of the challenge is that the Boilermakers, not unlike the Badgers, are looking to bring more pressure this season than they did last year, according to Stave.

"They look athletic," Stave said. "They've got some good players up front who can make plays. We're going to have to play well if we want to beat them, and we'll have to have a good week of practice."

In the end, the Badgers seem to think the Boilermakers present a big enough challenge where they shouldn't need to rely on their loss to Arizona State for any extra motivation. Stave said some players might be playing with something else to prove this week, but for the most part the team has taken what they can get out of their trip to Tempe. From here on out it's all about competing in the Big Ten, and trying to win a conference title for the fourth year in a row.

"We came in yesterday morning and watched [the game], and there was a ton of good learning from that game," Stave said. "What we're trying to do is not necessarily use it as motivation- if people are going to have a chip on their shoulder, they're going to have a chip on their shoulder. It's all about going in to [play] Purdue."

For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.



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