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GAME THREAD: Wisconsin vs. Illinois

I know the players say they don’t care but IT’S TIME FOR REVENGE BABY, LET’S GOOOOOOOOOOO!

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers (0-0 overall, 0-0 B1G) are set to kickoff their season Friday night against the Illinois Fighting Illini (0-0 overall, 0-0 B1G) at an empty Camp Randall Stadium.

We have been, quite literally, waiting months longer than usual for Big Ten football to be back in our lives and it is finally here. The Badgers have a brand new QB1, Graham Mertz, due to an injury to Jack Coan that will leave him on the sidelines indefinitely. They have a new running back by committee approach not that Jonathan Taylor has moved on to the Indianapolis Colts. Their best wide receiver is gone as are their best two linebackers and yet...there are new faces ready to step up.

While no one has specifically asked me about it, I did not write a B1G Roast this week because, frankly, I didn’t know what to say. I love Wisconsin Badgers football more than most things in my life but I know in the bottom of my heart that they probably shouldn’t be playing this year. College football fandom is, in and of itself, a series of contradictions and concessions you make with yourself.

The players aren’t paid, until recently player safety wasn’t taken as seriously as it should be, there is an undercurrent of racism and inequality in many (all?) programs in the country and now you add a pandemic on top of it all? Oof, is that tough to look past.

I know the players want to play and I’m happy they get to, but I also hope that everyone stays healthy and safe which may prove to be far more difficult than the Big Ten decision makers think.

This will be the weirdest season of college football that any of us have ever watched. The pageantry of the sport is one of its main differentiators and that will be muted this year. No fans, no tailgates, no Fifth Quarter, no Jump nothing. The stadium will be eerily quiet and empty and underneath it all there will be the current of “is everyone healthy” and “are we doing the right thing?”

I’m hoping that once the ball is kicked a switch will flip in my mind and we can get back to making jokes online with our pals about Paul Chryst’s sweatshirt and Brandon Peters’ interceptions but I don’t think it’ll be that easy.

I guess what I’m really hoping is that I’m wrong. I’d like nothing more than to be completely wrong and owned for my bad opinion. Let’s all hope that, for once, I am wrong.

Here are the staff predictions for the game:

Bob: 28-17, Wisconsin

Ryan: 31-10, Wisconsin

Tyler: 31-17, Wisconsin

Owen: 27-17, Wisconsin

Belz: 38-21, Wisconsin

Neal: 33-13, Wisconsin

Rock: 31-6, Wisconsin

Drew: 30-14, Wisconsin

Kevin: 38-14, Wisconsin

J.J.: 35-17, Wisconsin

::double checks last year’s game thread::

Nope, I don’t seem to recall one single time that all of our writers projecting a win over Illinois has ever gone wrong! ::puts fingers in ears and runs away shouting LALALALALA::

There are three other games on tonight, none of which really move the needle nationally although UL-Lafayette at UAB should be exciting if you’re looking for a flipback. There is also Game 3 of the World Series if you want to see Mookie Betts do something awesome.

Lastly, Illinois didn’t release a depth chart because they are cowards, but here is a list of their players who have started the most games.

Illinois Media Guide

The players in bold started in the Redbox Bowl last year.