The Wisconsin Badgers have one of the best teams in the Big Ten once again — what a surprise. The Badgers are coming off a thumping of the Northwestern Wildcats at home and the game wasn’t even close. Wisconsin has a new head coach in charge, but that doesn’t change its prominence in the conference.
On the other side of the field, the Illinois Fighting Illini had one of the worst seasons in school history a year ago and finished the season with no wins in conference play just one season removed from a bowl win. However, Illinois is experiencing a bit of a resurgence in 2013 and could be a serious contender in the Legends Division with a couple more signature wins.
While Wisconsin might be one of the best overall teams in the Big Ten, it’s not often you mention the run game before you bring up the leader and quarterback. However, it’s hard to talk about Wisconsin and not talk about the potent rushing attack of the Badgers that ranks fifth in the nation. Melvin Gordon seemingly came out of nowhere to lead this team in rushing with 870 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 9.7 yards per carry through six games. James White has also been solid, running for 574 yards and five touchdowns. Joel Stave is the sophomore quarterback that leads this team with 1,297 yards and 11 scores.
The Fighting Illini have had one of the best passing attacks in the Big Ten as well as a pretty solid run game. Nathan Scheelhaase has seen his number improve drastically in his final season as the quarterback of this team and he has passed for 1,297 yards and 12 touchdowns in five games. Josh Ferguson is the team’s best receiver and he has given Scheelhaase some help in the pass game, catching 20 passes for 344 yards and three scores — oh yeah, and he’s the running back. Rushing for another 310 yards and a touchdown, Ferguson is one of the most dynamic running backs in the nation.
Defensively, the Badgers have allowed just 13.2 points per game as well as 267.3 yards per game — looks like Gary Andersen’s coaching has paid off for Wisconsin. Illinois has allowed 27.6 points per game and also 449.8 yards per game — almost exact opposites of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin will travel to Illinois to take on the Fighting Illini at 8 p.m. EST on Saturday, Oct. 19. The game will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network.
PREDICTION: Wisconsin 30, Illinois 20