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Wisconsin217141456
Illinois01701532
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32


(25) Wisconsin (4-2) at Illinois (3-2)



Saturday, October 19, 8 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: After making their return to the Top-25, No. 25 Wisconsin will face a tough Big Ten Conference road test at Illinois on Saturday night.

Wisconsin began the season ranked in the preseason poll and were able to climb to No. 20 following a fast 2-0 start, but with a couple of difficult road losses to Arizona (32-30) and Ohio State (31-24), it promptly fell from the ranks. The Badgers bounced back in a big way last weekend in their homecoming game by downing Northwestern, 35-6, to move to 2-1 in the Big Ten.

"These kids prepared," Wisconsin head coach Gary Anderson said. "It obviously means a lot to them every single week, but the ability to get in this position and win at home against really good football team, and we all know that Northwestern is a very, very good football team...I'm proud of this team."

Illinois has been one of the Big Ten's biggest surprises during the first half of the season, and at 3-2, it has already surpassed its win total from the disastrous 2012 season (2-10). The Illini entered league play in their latest contest on Oct. 5 at Nebraska and were handed a 39-19 defeat. They have now dropped 15 consecutive Big Ten matchups dating back to the 2011 season.

This marks the 80th meeting between these two programs, with the series knotted up at 36-36-7. The Badgers have had the upper hand of late, beating the Illini in seven of the last eight matchups.

Wisconsin's offense has been outstanding this season, scoring 37.2 ppg, but in a Big Ten filled with high-scoring teams that number is good for just fifth in the league. It is the conference's top offense in terms of yardage (519.5 ypg), however.

Joel Stave runs the offense and has been impressive with 1,297 yards and 11 touchdowns on 61.8 percent completions, but he's been plagued by six interceptions, and as good as the offense has performed, he knows that it is capable of even more.

"There's things to tighten up (with the offense)," Stave said. "There's room for improvement, as there always is. It's never going to be perfect, but that's the goal. We're going to watch (the tape), learn from it and make sure we're continuing to strive for perfection."

Unfortunately for Stave and the Badgers, it appears as though they might be without one of the nation's best receivers in this matchup, as Jared Abbrederis is doubtful after suffering a concussion last week. He has racked up 35 receptions, 646 yards and five touchdowns, and in his absence James White (18 receptions, 160 yards) will likely serve as the top target.

Luckily, Wisconsin has the nation's fifth-ranked rushing attack to lean on, as the squad puts up 298.2 yards per game on the ground. Melvin Gordon is in the midst of a breakout campaign during his sophomore season with 870 yards (third in FBS) and eight touchdowns. White also gets involved with 574 yards and five scores, and Corey Clement makes the most of his limited touches with 353 yards and four touchdowns.

Defensively, few teams in the FBS can compete with the Badgers. They yield just 267.3 ypg, and their scoring defense (13.2 ppg) ranks first in the conference and fifth in the nation.

Chris Borland is the defensive catalyst. His 56 tackles are more than twice as many as any of his teammates, and he has also racked up 3.0 TFL and 2.0 sacks. Sojour Shelton has picked off three passes, while Warren Herring (4.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks) and Vince Biegel (2.0 sacks) help create a pass-rush.

The Illinois offense has nearly been as impressive as Wisconsin's, as it ranks in the upper half of the Big Ten in both scoring (36.0 ppg) and yardage (457.2 ypg), while also converting third downs at a 48 percent clip.

Nathan Scheelhaase has been one of the league's most impressive signal callers, ranking third in both yards (1,297) and touchdowns (12), and his completion percentage (.642) is the best among Big Ten quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts. He has also protected the football for the most part with just four interceptions.

Josh Ferguson is one of the most versatile tailbacks in the nation. Not only does he lead the team in rushing with 310 yards and a touchdown on 49 attempts, but he is Scheelhaase's favorite target in the passing game as well, reeling in 20 balls for 344 yards and three touchdowns. Donovonn Young is also heavily utilized with 269 yards and three scores.

Ryan Lankford acts as a viable deep threat, tallying 236 yards and a touchdown on just 11 receptions.

The Illini have had some issues on the defensive side of the ball, allowing opposing teams to score 27.6 ppg on 449.8 ypg.

Jonathan Brown is one of the Big Ten's top tacklers with 60 stops and 6.5 TFL. The unit has created only five turnovers through five games, with Taylor Barton recording the only interception.

Illinois has defended its home field admirably this season, winning all three of its contests in Champaign, although it has yet to face an opponent as formidable as Wisconsin. The Illini are a much-improved team this season and will make a game of it, but the Badgers are one of the nation's most well- balanced squads, and even if Abbrederis is unable to suit up, they still have enough firepower to capture a tough road victory.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wisconsin 30, Illinois 21

10/16 10:40:43 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14
 
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
Final
SFG 11
KAN 4
8:07pm Tonight
SFG
KAN
 
Final
WISC 52
MD 7
Final
SMU 10
MEM 48
Final
ILL 28
MINN 24
Final
RICE 41
UNT 21
Final
NEB 42
RUTG 24
Final
KST 23
TEX 0
Final
ARK 45
UAB 17
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
EMICH 17
NILL 28
Final
NAVY 41
SJST 31
Final
BST 35
AKR 21
Final
GASTATE 31
GASO 69
Final
TOL 42
UMASS 35
Final
WMICH 42
OHIO 21
Final
COL 37
UCLA 40
Final
UMO 10
KSU 3
Final
WAKE 17
BC 23
Final
BUF 14
CMICH 20
Final
MARS 35
FATL 16
Final
PITT 28
GT 56
Final
SMISS 20
LATU 31
Final
MSU 35
MICH 11
Final
KENT 31
MSST 45
Final
STAN 38
ORST 14
Final
TCU 82
TTU 27
Final
OKST 10
WVU 34
Final
WKENT 66
ODU 51
Final
UTST 34
UNLV 20
Final
MIZZ 24
VANDY 14
Final
UCF 34
TEMPL 14
Final
WASU 37
ARZ 59
Final
CLEM 16
SYR 6
Final
LAMON 18
TXST 22
Final
TXSANANTO 0
UTEP 34
Final
COLST 45
WYO 31
Final
LSU 10
MISS 7
Final
TENN 20
ALA 34
Final
AUB 42
SCAR 35
Final
PSU 24
OSU 31
Final
UTAH 24
USC 21
Final
WASH 10
ARST 24
Final
HAW 18
NEV 26
 
Final
SJS 1
BUF 2
Final
TOR 1
BOS 4
Final
NYI 7
DAL 5
Final
PHI 4
DET 2
Final
OTT 2
NJD 3
Final
MON 3
NYR 1
Final
STL 3
CHI 2
Final
NAS 0
PIT 3
Final
MIN 7
TAM 2
Final
ARI 2
FLA 1
Final
CAL 1
WAS 3
3:00pm Today
WIN
COL
 
4:00pm Today
LOS
CLB
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
OTT
 
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
SJS
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
WAS
 
9:30am Today
ATL
DET
1:00pm Today
CIN
BAL
1:00pm Today
NYJ
BUF
1:00pm Today
NEP
CHI
1:00pm Today
TEN
HOU
1:00pm Today
JAC
MIA
1:00pm Today
TAM
MIN
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
1:00pm Today
KAN
STL
4:05pm Today
ARI
PHI
4:25pm Today
PIT
IND
4:25pm Today
CLE
OAK
8:30pm Tonight
NOS
GBP
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14