Predictions - No.23 Wisconsin vs. Illinois

Predictions - No.23 Wisconsin vs. Illinois

Football

Predictions - No.23 Wisconsin vs. Illinois

Looking to recover from its first Big Ten loss in over two years, No.23 Wisconsin goes back into Big Ten West Divisional play tomorrow morning against Illinois. The Badgers Insider Staff gives our game and a score prediction for the matchup.

Brian Becker – Wisconsin 48, Illinois 17

Entering the season, Wisconsin’s offense was expected to do great things, considering they returned nine starters from a 13-1 team. Through six games, the offense hasn’t lived up to its preseason expectations. Wisconsin’s running game has been great, sixth nationally in average at 269.7 yards per game, but the passing game has been a disappointment. A complete performance could come against an Illinois defense that ranks either last or toward the bottom over Big Ten play in scoring defense (42 points per game), total defense (529.3 yards per game), rushing defense (244.3 ypg), and passing defense (285 ypg).

If Wisconsin’s offense can mimic what it did against Nebraska for the final three quarters, the Badgers should be able to create the separation they need against Illinois. That will depend on UW’s banged-up defense slowing the Illinois rushing attack, which has averaged 214.7 rushing yards over Big Ten play. If Wisconsin’s rush defense can be consistent, Illinois will have to try and beat UW in the air, easier said than done considering the Illini only average 145.3 passing yards over conference play.

Quarterback A.J. Bush Jr. is the x-factor in this game. He’s passed for 259 yards the last two weeks but rushed for 140 yards and three touchdowns during that time. If UW can slow him, the Badgers will win handily.

Becker’s Record: 5-1

Billy Hirschfeld – Wisconsin 30, Illinois 17

The previous games in the series against the Fighting Illini show that they are a difficult opponent for the Badgers … but only early on in the game. The Badgers will run away with the win late in the second half and regain the confidence they lost last week against the Wolverines

Hirschfeld’s Record: 4-2

Logan Samp – Wisconsin 41, Illinois 14.

After a crushing loss to Michigan last week, the Badgers will be out for blood on Homecoming. They face a Fighting Illini team that has lost three of its last four, gives up over 31 points per game and allows 199.5 yards on the ground per contest. With the playoffs officially gone, Wisconsin is looking to regain momentum towards a Big Ten division title. Expect the Badgers to grind this game out and pound the rock as they always do, rushing for over 300 yards and winning big.

Samp’s Record: 5-1

Benjamin Worgull – Wisconsin 34, Illinois 17

The most interesting storyline for me tomorrow is which version of each team shows up to compete. Wisconsin showed great promise after throttling Nebraska two weeks ago, putting up 41 points and 533 yards of offense, only to embarrass itself last week on national television at Michigan. The 13 points UW scored was its lowest in two years (also at Michigan) and the program’s worst regular-season loss since 2008. That’s what happens when the defense allows 320 rushing yards and the Badgers showcased an offense that looked pre-forward pass.

Illinois did what every Big Ten team should do, beat Rutgers, two weeks ago but immediately fell back to earth last week with a 46-7 face plant against Purdue. Believe it or not, Purdue’s offense appears more explosive than Wisconsin’s, so how will Illinois’ defense – which has just as many problems as UW’s group – handle this one?

Picking Wisconsin to win was easy, but figuring out if the Badgers will cover the 25.5-point spread wasn’t. Despite not beating UW since 2007, Illinois has played the Badgers’ tough in recent history, keeping the game with two scores five times over that span.

Here are some Illinois strengths that directly attack Wisconsin’s recent weaknesses, a banged-up defense and an inconsistent quarterback.

The Illini are averaging 228.8 rushing yards per game, good for 22nd in FBS and over 120 rushing yards per game better than last season’s average per game (105.6). Illinois has 11 rushing plays of 30+ yards, tied for fourth-most in FBS, and seven of 40+ yards, tied for third-most in FBS.

The Illini’s 1.83 interceptions per game are tied for fourth nationally and ranks second in the Big Ten. The 11 total interceptions are tied for fifth in FBS.

UW wins but Illinois keeps it close.

Worgull’s Record: 5-1

Worgull’s Record vs. spread: 4-2

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