Wisconsin, who was playing in only its second road game of the season, had a chance to secure a win, but turned the ball over on a Jack Coan interception with 2:32 remaining.
Jonathan Taylor, who came into the game needing just four yards to reach the career milestone of 5,000 rushing yards, reached it on the opening play of the game with a 16-yard run.
Taylor joined Herschel Walker (5,596), Ron Dayne (5,091) and LaMichael James (5,082) as the only players to have rushed for more than 5,000 yards through their junior season in NCAA history.
Wisconsin scored on its opening drive for the sixth time in seven games, when Coan found tight end Jake Ferguson on an 18-yard touchdown pass, Ferguson’s second score of the season.
Wisconsin’s opening drive went 11 plays, 75 yards and covered 5:45 of game time.
The Badgers then added their second score of the game following an 11-play, 72-yard drive that covered 6:11. Collin Larsh capped off that drive with a 24-yard field goal.
With just under six minutes remaining in the second quarter, Illinois quarterback, Brandon Peters connected with Donny Navarro for a 48-yard touchdown completion, which was the first touchdown Wisconsin has allowed in the first half, this season.
Following Larsh’s second field goal of the game, a 44-yard kick, a career long, Illinois completed a 73-yard catch and run for a score, which would have been the first time this season that Wisconsin has trailed, but the long scoring play was called back, as the Illini center strayed too far up field, prior to the ball being thrown.
After Wisconsin forced its 15th takeaway of the season, a fumble on the Illinois 16-yard line, Taylor scored his 15th rushing touchdown of the season (19 total) on a 5-yard rush.
Taylor would finish the game with 28 carries for 132 yards. This was Taylor’s 28th career 100-yard game in 34 career games. Only Ron Dayne has more 100-yard games in school history (33).
With under a minute left in the third quarter, Illinois running back Reggie Corbin added a rushing touchdown of his own, a 43-yard score, which was the longest rush the Wisconsin defense has allowed all season.
Following a third field goal by Larsh, who went 3-4 on the day, Wisconsin looked to be in a position to extend its lead against Illinois, after forcing a turnover on downs by Illinois, when Chris Orr stopped Corbin for no gain, giving Wisconsin the ball at the Illini 45.
Orr, who registered the pivotal stop for Wisconsin, led the team in tackles with nine tackles and three sacks. With his three sacks in the game, Orr now has eight sacks in the last four games.
Orr only had two career sacks coming into the 2019 season.
As a team defensively, the Badgers were able to bring down Peters four times via the sack. Wisconsin also held Illinois to 2-for-10 on third-down and 0-for-1 on fourth down.
However, Wisconsin was unable to capitalize following the turnover on downs, as Taylor fumbled for the first time this season, giving Illinois the ball back on their own 25. Illinois then went on a 4-play, 75 yard drive, which was capped off by a 29-yard touchdown pass from Peters to Josh Imatorbhebhe, bringing the Illini within two, at 23-21.
Wisconsin then got the ball back with 5:53 remaining, and a chance to lock down a victory and continue an undefeated season, but Coan, who went 24-32 for 264 yards, was intercepted by Illini defensive back, Tony Adams.
Coan was looking to connect with Jake Ferguson, who led the team in receiving on the day, with five receptions for 77 yards, on a similar play to one that the two had connected on previously, and Adams leaped and hauled in the pass, to give Illinois the ball with 2:23 remaining.
Illinois then went on a 9-play, 32 yard drive capped off by McCourt’s 39-yard, game-winning field goal.
Wisconsin will play on the road again next weekend as they travel to Columbus, in what was set to be potentially the game of the season, to play the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0, 4-0 B1G). Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CST.