Your Wisconsin Badgers (1-3 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) are away from home for their first true road game of the season on Saturday afternoon. The Illinois Fighting Illini (2-4 overall, 1-2 Big Ten), who are celebrating their 111th Homecoming this weekend, await and there are, per usual, storylines aplenty.
The new head coach at Illinois is none other than former Badgers boss, Bret Bielema. Many coaches on UW’s staff, including Paul Chryst, used to work under Bielema and he has stocked his new Illini staff with coaches that have Wisconsin connections.
The Badgers steamrolled the Illini in the opening game of the season last year at an empty Camp Randall Stadium, but that was after UW fell to Illinois the season before in one of the most embarrassing losses of the past decade, so this will be a rubber match of sorts in the recent rivalry history. It is worth noting (I think) that the Illini will not be wearing the gray ghost uniforms this year.
This is a matchup of two teams who have been pretty terrible on offense so far this year and, somehow, Illinois’ has been better...but not by much. As has been the case in, well, every matchup this season, UW will have the best unit on the field (their defense) and hopefully in this game that’ll be enough to win. It hasn’t been enough in games against Penn State, Michigan or Notre Dame but all three of those teams are better than Illinois.
The Badgers have had an inability to protect the quarterback or open many rushing lanes so far this season and while the Illini don’t have a dominant front seven they have a number of players, most notably Owen Carney, Jr., who could give Wisconsin fits.
Here’s hoping the groove that Graham Mertz found in the second quarter against Michigan, before being knocked out of the game early in the third quarter, continues and the Badgers are able to put a big number up on the Illini. Again, I hope this happens...I don’t think it’s going to happen until I actually see it on the field.
Here are the staff predictions for the game:
Tyler: 24-10, Wisconsin
Owen: 24-13, Wisconsin
J.J.: 28-10, Wisconsin
Belz: 17-14, Wisconsin
Rock: I will eat a candy corn brat.
Kevin: 21-17, Wisconsin
Ryan: 24-13, Wisconsin
Bremen: 20-9, Wisconsin (and 3-0 Wisconsin in volleyball against Illinois)
Drew: 21-20, Wisconsin
Jake: 27-10, Wisconsin
Neal: 20-17, Wisconsin
Here is the depth chart for Wisconsin. I couldn’t find the depth chart for Illinois, but rest assured, it’s stupid and I hate it.
And here is the updated injury report:
And the new look offensive line with Logan Bruss out.
Starting OL— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) October 9, 2021
And last (?) but not least, RB Isaac Guerendo will also miss the game.