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Fifth Quarter Consensus: Badgers Get By Fighting Illini

B5Q agrees Wisconsin will rediscover the winning track against Illinois.

Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The Predictions:

  • Sahil Shah (+91): Wisconsin 31, Illinois 10
  • Nathan Palm (+97): Wisconsin 34, Illinois 20
  • Andy Johnson (+113): Wisconsin 35, Illinois 17
  • Phil Mitten (+122): Wisconsin 28, Illinois 14
  • Jake Harris (+127): Wisconsin 23, Illinois 19
  • Mike Fiammetta (+133): Wisconsin 34, Illinois 17
  • Andrew Rosin (+160): Wisconsin 27, Illinois 10
  • Adam Tupitza: Wisconsin 30, Illinois 20
  • Louis Bien: Wisconsin 40, Illinois 17
  • John Daly:
  • Jack Moore: Wisconsin 35, Illinois 13

The Reasoning:

There are two ways to look at Wisconsin's season to this point. An optimist would see a promising team that has lost two tough road games to teams currently ranked by six combined points. A pessimist would look at the way the Badgers played throughout September and conclude that the team is nowhere near ready for primetime.

Illinois ought to make Wisconsin look a bit better, however. The Fighting Illini are reeling, losers of two straight blowouts at home. Louisiana Tech won 52-24 in Champaign and then Penn State put a 35-7 licking on the Illini. First-year coach Tim Beckman inherited a roster with some talent but Illinois has woefully underachieved.

Wisconsin's developing offense should continue to find its rhythm against a defense allowing 27.8 points per game. If Matt McGloin could lead Penn State to 35 points against the Illini, then even a redshirt freshman like Joel Stave should be able to do some damage.

Defensively, the Badgers will have their work cut out for them now that junior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is rolling for Illinois. Against the Nittany Lions, Scheelhaase completed 28-of-46 pass attempts for 270 yards. He did throw two interceptions, however, and never got much going on the ground. The Illini rank 91st in Division I-A in rushing for just 130.6 yards per game.

The Badgers should get a boost from the potential returns of safety Shelton Johnson and defensive ends Brendan Kelly and Tyler Dippel. Head coach Bret Bielema announced earlier this week that Kyle French will return to place-kicking duties, while Jack Russell will handle kickoffs.

Wisconsin boasts the nation's second-longest home win streak and that doesn't figure to change against a team that has already been blown out three times. This should be another opportunity for the coaching staff to gel and the offense to take a step forward.

Who has the edge?

  • Offense: Wisconsin
  • Defense: Wisconsin
  • Special Teams: Illinois
  • Coaching: Wisconsin
  • Intangibles: Wisconsin