It is finally here! There is going to be actual, real-life Wisconsin Badgers football on your television or mobile device tonight. Can you believe it? This has been the most tumultuous offseason in decades and will surely be the strangest season in decades too, but we’ve made it to the starting line. Let’s get it on.
Obviously, this is the first game of the season for Wisconsin and their opponents, the Illinois Fighting Illini, so neither team has any game film to analyze or stats to look over...but there is always the revenge factor.
You may remember that the Badgers and Illini played last season and that the Badgers were highly ranked and heavily favored and...well...of course you remember what happened next. Illinois kicked a last second field goal for one of the biggest upsets of the season and everyone was mad about it forever.
The Badgers will be breaking in a new QB, a new RB and a couple of new LBs against the Illini, so even though UW is favored to win again I am pretty certain this game will not be overlooked by Wisconsin.
How to watch/listen
TV: BTN, 7:00 p.m. CT, Brandon Gaudin, James Laurinaitis, Rick Pizzo
Streaming: FOX Sports app; FOXSports.com; fuboTV affiliate link (B5Q has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.) ((aka, if you sign up through that link, we get some money.))
Radio: Badger Sports Network (iHeartRadio), Satellite: Sirius 84 or XM 84, Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas, Mark Tauscher, Patrick Herb
Stadium: Camp Randall Stadium
Weather: Madison, Wisconsin (rainy all morning, clears up at night but cold as hell)
Line: Wisconsin -19.5
Fun facts (according to the media guides)
- Wisconsin saw its nine-game win streak over Illinois snapped in last year’s meeting, which the Illini claimed, 24-23, on a field goal as time expired. The nine-game win streak was the longest by either team in the history of this series.
- The Badgers have won eight straight over Illinois at Camp Randall Stadium.
- Wisconsin leads the all-time series 42-38-7.
- Oct. 23 marks the latest start to a Wisconsin football season since the Badgers opened the 1918 campaign — which was delayed due to the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-20 and came during the final days of World War I — by hosting Camp Grant on Oct. 26.
- Wisconsin has opened a season by taking on Illinois just once, a 14-5 defeat on Oct. 26, 1907.
- Graham Mertz will be the first freshman to start a season opener at QB for the Badgers in 42 years.
- Paul Chryst’s next win will move him into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time wins list for Wisconsin football coaches.
- Fifth-year Illinois head coach Lovie Smith served as linebackers coach at Wisconsin in 1987, which was UW head coach Paul Chryst’s senior season as a player at UW.
- Wisconsin’s roster features seven Illinois natives: OL Dylan Barrett (St. Charles), TE Jack Eschenbach (Downers Grove), OLB Izayah Green-May (Bolingbrook), ILB Mike Maskalunas (Long Grove), ILB Maema Njongmeta (Buffalo Grove), WR Kendric Pryor (Hazel Crest) and ILB Jack Sanborn (Deer Park)