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Wisconsin Football: Keys to Victory against Illinois

What do the Badgers need to do to pick up a victory against the Fighting Illini?

Wisconsin v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

What do the Badgers need to do to come away with a victory against Illinois on Saturday? Let’s take a look!

Just produce

I don’t care if it’s through the air on the ground or some other form that I can’t think of but just find a way to get the ball down the field consistently. This season the Badgers haven’t been able to produce much of anything on the offensive side of the ball against the two good teams that they’ve faced off against.

Bobby Engram needs to keep pushing his philosophy and trying to build his version of what he believes Wisconsin Football will look like in the future, but I don’t think you do that at the expense of losing. If the Badgers are up, yeah keep testing out the new territory. But if they’re down you need to find what’s hot and what works to get momentum to get the W.

This offense has the chance to be good. But I still don’t think that the offensive line has fully gelled yet, Braelon Allen is carrying too much of the load, and Mertz’s progress isn’t good enough. This offense is in trouble. Illinois has a better defense than the last time these two teams met. Wisconsin’s going to have to put in work for this game if they want the win.

Don’t let Illinois build moment with early points

Last week Jim Leonard gave up the most points he’s ever allowed as a coordinator for the Badgers. The Illini aren’t Ohio State but they have the team to put up points on the ground and through the air. They have one of the most dominant offenses in the Big Ten. Their running back is one of the best in the country with more yards gained than any other. They also have two of the top wide receivers in the country each pulling in almost 300 yards individually.

Leonard will have his work cut out for him this week. With injuries still plaguing both sides of the ball, it’s time for younger guys to step up and fill the voids. This defense can avoid the mistakes of this previous week and prevent them from occurring again this week.

Play with a sense of urgency

Wisconsin’s problem is that the Illini’s offense has become better while the Badger's defense has declined. These are not the same teams that played a season ago. That reality alone should scare the Badgers into waking up if last week’s loss wasn’t enough.

Both Chryst and the Wisconsin football program are in a bad position. But a change now won’t mean a change in results quickly. Just ask any Nebraska fans how hard it is to get back into the top tier of football. Wisconsin has the financial support, the recruiting staff (only recently), and the facilities. But they’re still falling behind other schools with NIL opportunities and adapting their offense into something that’s more flexible.

It’s hard to remember that Bret Bielema was once in this very same boat. In 2008 the Badgers went 7-6 on the season and limped into the Citrus bowl game where they were promptly blown out of the water early by a mediocre Florida State. In the three years following that awful 2008 season Bielema and the Badgers would have a three-plus ten-win season and only lose 8 games.

This should serve as a reminder of how dark things can get before dawn. The Badgers recently posted one of the best-recruiting classes in the school’s history and barring some great exudes in the transfer portal Chryst will still have time to repair the damage caused this season. But good luck Badgers. Fans aren’t happy, we know you arn’t either but don’t give up now.