Clay carries Wisconsin in shutout of Purdue

MADISON, Wis. -- John Clay ran for 123 yards and three touchdowns and Wisconsin shut out a Big Ten opponent for the first time since 1999 to snap a two-game losing streak with a 37-0 victory over Purdue on Saturday.

Freshman David Gilbert added a leaping blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown, putting an emphatic exclamation point on a dominant first half in the win that made the Badgers bowl-eligible for the eighth consecutive year.

Wisconsin (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) and Purdue (3-6, 2-3) came in heading in opposite directions after the Boilermakers had beaten Ohio State and Illinois.

Instead it was Purdue's worst shutout loss since a 48-0 defeat at Notre Dame in 1992 and worst Big Ten shutout since 1991, when the Boilermakers lost 42-0 at Michigan.

Purdue gained 141 yards on offense for the game, nine fewer than Wisconsin rolled up in a 150-yard first quarter.

That's because the 248-pound Clay, who leads the Big Ten in rushing and rushing TDs, flattened the Boilermakers early and helped Wisconsin restore confidence after losses to Ohio State and Iowa followed by a week off.

Quarterback Joey Elliott had the worst start of his career, going 5 of 23 for 59 yards and an interception before being replaced late in the third quarter. Elliott's receivers didn't help him either, dropping six passes.

Wisconsin has now won 23 straight home games against unranked opponents. The Badgers rushed for 266 yards and started with 11 straight runs in an 80-yard TD drive on their first possession.

Clay, who has been working through a sore ankle, capped the drive with a 1-yard dive to make it 7-0.

After the first of three field goals by Philip Welch made it 10-0, Wisconsin scored twice in a span of 31 seconds in the second quarter to put it out of reach.

Elliott made an ill-advised throw from his goal line midway through the second quarter that Wisconsin cornerback Devin Smith picked off at the Purdue 20. Four plays later, Clay scored from the 1 to make it 17-0.

Purdue was forced to punt on its ensuing possession, but Gilbert leaped over 6-foot-3 defensive tackle Adam Brockman and 6-foot-6 offensive tackle Peters Drey to get his hands on Chris Summers' punt. Aaron Henry returned the block 9 yards for a TD to make it 24-0.

Clay, who finished with 24 carries, made it 31-0 on the first possession of the second half when he ran for 3 yards, fumbled at the goal line and recovered it in the end zone.

Elliott had appeared to turn a corner with his performances against the Buckeyes and the Illini but was on the bench in favor of Caleb TerBush late in the third quarter. Purdue's quarterbacks finished 9 of 33 for 81 yards.

The last time the Badgers were this dominant was a 59-0 rout of Indiana 10 years ago when the Badgers rolled up 461 yards rushing behind Ron Dayne and Michael Bennett.

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