It was a different time for Purdue football in 2003.
That year, head coach Joe Tiller led the Boilermakers to the Capital One bowl game against Georgia, their seventh straight bowl game.
Future NFL stars Shaun Phillips and Stuart Schweigert anchored the defense. Wide receivers John Standeford and Taylor Stubblefield broke career records with Kyle Orton at quarterback.
2003 also marks the last time Purdue has beaten Wisconsin in football.
Since the top 15 showdown that brought ESPN College Gameday to Camp Randall Stadium, Purdue has gone 0-6 against Wisconsin.
“These aren’t the same guys who beat us last year,” senior defensive tackle Kawann Short said. “You take a vengeance of that. It’s Wisconsin so it’s a big game for us.”
Purdue has found a multitude of ways to lose to the Badgers in the nine years since their last victory.
In 2004, Kyle Orton fumbled away the game and his potential Heisman hopes as the No. 5 ranked Boilermakers lost at home 20-17.
In 2009, Danny Hope’s first year as coach, the Boilermakers were shut out in a 37-0 blowout. Most recently, Purdue lost 62-17 in last year’s meeting. The Boilermakers have been outscored by an average of 31 points in the last four meetings against Wisconsin.
With an unranked Wisconsin team coming to West Lafayette this weekend, Saturday’s game is the best chance in recent history for Purdue to snap the losing streak against the Badgers.
“As far as the team we have right now, I think we are in a better position than we were last year,” Short said.
Wisconsin, the two-time defending Big Ten champs, started out the 2012 season poorly, losing to Oregon State and struggling against Northern Iowa and Utah State.
After starting out a Big Ten play with a 30-27 loss at Nebraska, the Badgers beat a struggling Illinois team 31-14 last week and are playing more like their No.12 preseason ranking.
Short says that Purdue’s improved defense will be key to stopping the strong Wisconsin rushing attack led by 2011 Heisman finalist Montee Ball.
“I think we match up pretty well as a defense and I think we can stop these guys,” Short said. “If we stop these guys, we have a nice chance of making everything go (in) our favor toward the end of the year. Just getting this win would mean a lot to the program and team in general.”
Cornerback Ricardo Allen knows that even though the Badgers haven’t played up to their potential so far, they are still a very dangerous team.
“They always have good players on offense; their offensive coordinator was really good but he left last year,” Allen said. “I think they are very capable of running the ball. They haven’t exploded yet this year but they’re still capable of what they used to do.”