Five Keys to Victory: Illinois

Back on track after being its first ranked opponent of the season, No.25 Wisconsin looks for its first road victory of the season when it takes on Illinois in Champaign tonight. Badger Nation gives its Five Keys to Victory.

A quick review of last week's prediction as BadgerNation went to 6-0 on the season:

UW was even stronger on defense than suspected as Chris Borland put on a clinic. The Badgers offense was dominant as suspected. UW was healthy and Northwestern missed Venric Mark; its running game was missing in action and the Wildcats had no answer to the Badgers when they ran multiple looks at the defensive line.

On to Illinois: This game is an even greater mismatch in favor of the Badgers, on paper, than was the Northwestern game. To prevail, the Badgers need to follow through on the basics and they should come out with a two-touchdown victory.

1, Solid Tackling

At first it might seem to be a cliché, but this week there is truth in the cliché. The Illini rely heavily on senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who has an impressive QB rating of 168. Should the Badgers linebackers and safeties contain and tackle Scheelhaase the Illini will be in for a long night. Key matchup: If the Illini are smart they will be moving Scheelhaase out to the edge, away from Borland. We will see if that can be successful. If so the key matchup will be UW safety Michael Caputo vs. Scheelhaase.

2, Solid play in the nickel defense from UW

Illinois is a passing team and its leading rusher, sophomore Josh Ferguson, has 310 yards on the season and is small for a Big Ten tailback. As a result it can be expected the Illini will be facing long thirds downs frequently. If the UW defensive backs keep the opponents and the ball in front of them it will be a long night for the Illini. Key matchup: Badgers safeties against Ferguson. Ferguson not only the Illini's leading rusher but its leading receiver, as well, with 344 yards on 20 receptionsis UI's leading receiver as well. Expect a harassed Scheelhaase to use him as an outlet when the pressure is one. If Dezmen Southward, Tanner McEvoy, Darius Hillary and Caputo can contain this option, it will be a very long night for Illinois.

3, Solid rushing game

This is a natural. Illinois gave up 335 yards in a loss to Nebraska. UW might run for 400 yards.

4, Solid progress at QB

UW QB Joel Stave continues to show up-and-down progress (if that isn't an oxymoron) as his season progresses. Stave is the only player who can single-handedly lose the game for UW but we don't expect that to happen. He'll continue to learn from his mistakes. His interceptions against Northwestern shouldn't be repeated. The return of tight end Jacob Pedersen last week made Stave's game much easier and that will be true again against Illinois.

5, Solid wide outs

It is expected that Jared Abbrederis will play against the Illini after having sat out the last three quarters against Northwestern. Even in his absence, UW receivers contributed to the big margin of victory last week. The Illini secondary has shown weakness this year.

Fearless Prediction: This has been a brief write up as all of the keys seem to lean heavily in favor of the Badgers. Final prediction - UW 41 Illinois 20.

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