October 10, 1998
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin quarterback Mike Samuel was outpassed by 450 yards and even his season total of 77 tosses is six fewer than Drew Brees threw Saturday night alone.
But he doesn't care to switch places with Purdue's sophomore sensation.
"No, I'd rather be on the winning end, like we were tonight," Samuel said after the 12th-ranked Badgers beat Purdue 31-24 at Camp Randall Stadium.
And Brees was in no celebrating mood after completing an incredible 55-of-83 passes for 494 yards.
"Anybody can throw 83 times. It's just a matter of completing them and not throwing four interceptions," Brees said. "My arm's fine. I could have thrown 100 more passes. I can't believe we lost the game."
Picked on all night by Brees, freshmen cornerbacks Mike Echols and Jamar Fletcher picked off the Boilermakers quarterback when it mattered most.
Echols intercepted Brees' pass in the end zone and Fletcher returned an interception 52 yards for a score as No. 12 Wisconsin withstood the Boilermakers' high-octane attack.
The Badgers (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) are off to their best start since their Rose Bowl season of 1993, while the Boilermakers fell to 3-3 and 1-1 despite Brees' big night.
Brees, a sophomore, tied an NCAA record with 55 completions - 18 to Randall Lane - and set an NCAA record with 83 attempts.
"I don't think I'll have to answer any more questions about whether our young secondary has been tested," Badgers coach Barry Alvarez said. "They had a lifetime of tests today."
Lane gained 178 yards on his Big Ten-record 18 receptions and Chris Daniels had 14 receptions for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
Badgers defensive end John Favret halted two other second-half drives with fourth-down stuffs inside the Wisconsin 35.
After Favret's second stuff, Badgers tailback Ron Dayne got untracked, carrying eight times for 33 yards on a 12-play drive he capped with a 1-yard dive for a 31-17 lead with 7:38 left.
Wisconsin, which lost the first-down battle 33-14, failed to gain a first down in the third quarter but broke a 17-all halftime tie nonetheless when Fletcher stepped in front of Brees' pass to Lane and went 52 yards to put Wisconsin up 24-17 with 1:10 left in the third quarter.
"I figured eventually I'd get one," Fletcher said.
"It was the biggest play of the game," said Brees.
Echols ended Purdue's first drive with a pickoff in the end zone after Brees had moved the Boilermakers 70 yards in 13 plays to the Wisconsin 10.
After Dayne's dive made it 31-17, Brees hit Gabe Cox in the end zone, but the ball bounced into the hands of defender Bobby Myers.
Brees capped the scoring with a 2-yard TD toss to Daniels with 22 seconds left, but Wisconsin's Chris Chambers recovered an onside kick.
After Matt Davenport's 25-yard field goal gave Wisconsin a 17-6 lead, the Boilermakers struck twice in the final 3:48 of the first half, when Brees threw 18 straight passes.
Overcoming a raucous crowd of 78,782 who attended Wisconsin's first-ever night homecoming game, Brees moved Purdue 76 yards in 11 snaps that chewed up just 73 seconds.
Brees capped the drive with a 6-yard strike to Daniels and a bullet to Lane for the 2-point conversion that pulled Purdue to 17-14.
Samuel, who scored on 9- and 16-yard keepers, fumbled at the Boilermakers 30 with 45 seconds left, and that was just enough time for Brees to move his high-powered offense into range for Travis Dorsch's 45-yard field goal, his third.
Wisconsin gained just 34 yards in the first quarter, but two plays accounted for 25 of them, along with two touchdowns.
Samuel's 9-yard run followed Donte King's fumble recovery at the Purdue 9 on De'Shann Austin's second straight muffed punt gave Wisconsin a 7-3 lead.
Then, the Badgers got the ball at the Purdue 20 following a punt from the end zone and a personal foul on the Boilermakers. Samuel rolled right and took it in from 16 yards out for a 14-3 advantage.
Samuel completed only 5-of-10 passes for 44 yards.
"Eighty-three passes? I've never heard of that," said Samuel, who ran 20 times for 58 yards. "That's amazing."
Brees beat the NCAA record of 79 passing attempts by TCU's Matt Vogler against Houston on Nov. 3, 1996. His 55 completions tied the mark set by Rusty LaRue of Wake Forest against Duke on Oct. 28, 1995.
Lane's 18 catches beat the previous Big Ten mark of 17 by Northwestern's Jon Harvey against Michigan in 1982.
"We can't win throwing 83 times. Emphatically, no," Purdue coach Joe Tiller said. "But I don't care about the statistics."
Neither does Samuel.
"I don't care if I throw once or 83 times," he said, "as long as we win."
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Sports Writer