WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — It didn’t come as a surprise that Purdue tested the University of Wisconsin’s secondary in the Badgers’ 47-44 triple overtime victory Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.
The Badgers’ starters in that defensive backfield, however, weren’t as expected when the game began.
True freshman cornerback Donte Burton, who had played in just three games prior to Saturday, made his first career start against the Boilermakers as the third corner in a nickel package. Eric Burrell also started for Scott Nelson, a move Burrell said he didn’t even know about until shortly before kickoff.
“We were kind of seeing where (Nelson) would be and if he was able to go, but wasn’t 100 percent,” UW coach Paul Chryst said.
Nelson didn’t appear on UW’s injury report this week but returned from a right leg injury last week at Penn State.
Burton hadn’t played since the Badgers’ trip to Michigan on Oct. 13 but earned a high number of snaps Saturday.
“Coach told us at the beginning of the week (Burton would play a bigger role),” true freshman cornerback Rachad Wildgoose said. “Donte’s been doing great in practice. He does things like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know he could do that.’ He deserved his moment.”
Purdue often found success against the group, as senior quarterback David Blough completed 31-of-48 passes for 386 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Prior to Saturday, UW had held four of its last five opponents under 170 yards passing.
The Boilermakers hit a number of deep passes. Cornerback Faion Hicks surrendered a handful of completions, and Rondale Moore scored a 46-yard touchdown in the third quarter when he beat Wildgoose off the line and broke a tackle from Burrell.
Hicks, Wildgoose and Caesar Williams were all flagged for pass interference, while Wildgoose also committed a defensive hold.
Even with the shortcomings, the group feels it also came through in big moments down the stretch as the Badgers mounted a 14-point comeback.
“We knew they were going to take it deep,” Burrell said. “We went out there and we competed. I think we went out there and did the best we could.
“We fought hard. That’s a lot of points on the board. … We’ve got to learn from it. It wasn’t pretty, but I think we got it done.”
UW commits 13 penalties
The Badgers committed 13 penalties for 125 yards on Saturday, higher numbers than UW’s posted in a game over the past decade.
Along with the four penalties in the secondary, the Badgers committed five false starts, an offensive hold on Michael Deiter, another hold on Mike Maskalunas that wiped out a big kickoff return and an unsportsmanlike conduct on cornerback Madison Cone.
Bruss gets first start at right tackle
Logan Bruss started at right tackle in place of David Edwards, who missed Saturday’s game with a left arm injury.
Bruss, a redshirt freshman, saw meaningful snaps previously this season as a blocking tight end, even earning three starts in that position.
Edwards suffered the injury during fall camp but played through it until Saturday.