Meanwhile, their opponents come into the contest with a 3-4 record (1-3 in conference play), but are fresh off an upset 27-24 road victory over the Maryland Terrapins.
For Wisconsin, this game is not only an opportunity to get back on track after a disappointing loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes last weekend, but it also provides the team an opportunity for revenge after their matchup with Illinois had significant implications last season.
In Week 4 of 2022, the Badgers lost 34-10 to the Fighting Illini, coming off a blowout loss to Ohio State, and head coach Paul Chryst was fired less than 24 hours later in a stunning turn of events that precluded the whirlwind of news this offseason.
Is this one personal for the Badgers?
“Absolutely, 100% personal,” left tackle Jack Nelson said without hesitation. “I remember that game. It was a terrible feeling, especially having two years ago going down there and beating them up, and then they kind of clapped back with that. But it definitely adds another element of motivation to it.”
While there are a number of new faces in the building, the old-timers certainly remember the feeling from last season, which has created animosity in the locker room ahead of the road trip.
“Yeah no doubt, [it’s personal],” linebacker Jake Chaney said. “I mean that was [when] coach just got fired. That was like the turning point to everything going bad. So I’ll say Illinois is a little personal.”
“I mean the past is past. It is what it is. But when you got some of the older guys, you don’t forget.”
Running back Braelon Allen, who battled injuries throughout the year in 2022, acknowledged the personal element of the battle, which has only fueled Wisconsin’s motivation ahead of Week 8.
“Yeah, [there’s a level of personal in this game],” Allen said. “Yeah, I think there’s a lot of factors kind of adding into that motivation going into this game.”
The Badgers will hope to carry that energy to Champaign on Saturday when they face the Illini, and it'll come under new circumstances, as redshirt freshman quarterback Braedyn Locke will make his first career start after starter Tanner Mordecai broke his hand against Iowa.