Wisconsin looks to keep pace in the Big Ten West with a victory at Illinois

BadgerNation looks at the matchup between Wisconsin and Illinois at Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Wisconsin (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) vs. Illinois (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Saturday, October 23 at 2:30 p.m. CT

Stadium – Memorial Stadium (60,670/FieldTurf)

Television – Big Ten Network (Kevin Kugler, Matt Millen, Lisa Byington)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series – Wisconsin leads 38-36-7 (Illinois leads 20-16-3 in Champaign, Ill.)

Last Meeting - Wisconsin won, 38-28, on October 11, 2014 in Madison

Series Notes

Wisconsin has won five straight games vs. Illinois, dating back to 2008. A win Saturday would allow the Badgers to match the longest win streak by either team in the history of the series. Illinois won six straight over UW from 1987-92.

Since then (1993 to present), Wisconsin is 14-3-1 against Illinois, including a 7-2 mark in Champaign.  

Wisconsin and Illinois played in the final tie game in FBS history, closing the 1995 season with a 3-3 draw on Nov. 25 in Madison. Overtime was introduced the following season.

The Badgers’ roster features seven Illinois natives: CB Titus Booker (Round Lake Beach), QB Thad Armstrong (Ottawa), ILB Garret Dooley (Rochester), TE David Edwards (Downers Grove), OLB T.J. Edwards (Lake Villa), TE Troy Fumagalli (Aurora) and OL Dan Voltz (Barrington).

Wisconsin Notes to Consider

Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave’s lone FBS scholarship offer came from Western Michigan and then-Broncos head coach Bill Cubit, who is now in his third year on the staff at Illinois and serves as the Illini’s interim head coach. Stave elected to walk on at Wisconsin and earned a scholarship in 2012.  Fresh off becoming the first quarterback in school history to go 4-0 vs. an opponent by scoring his fourth win over Purdue, Stave has a chance to repeat the feat tomorrow.

Wisconsin’s defense ranks No. 3 nationally, allowing just 10.9 points per game. Since surrendering 35 in their season opener vs. Alabama, the Badgers have allowed an average of 6.8 points over their last six games.

Through seven games, Wisconsin’s leading receiver (WR Alex Erickson, 549 yards) has amassed more yardage than its leading rusher (RB Dare Ogunbowale, 482). The Badgers have seen their leading receiver outgain their leading rusher in a season just 12 times in the modern era (since 1946) — eight of which came over a 10-year stretch from 1961-70.

After giving up 238 rushing yards to Alabama in its season opener Sept. 5, Wisconsin has surrendered an average of 80.8 yards over its last 6 games.

Wisconsin has allowed opponents to reach the red zone just 11 times in 7 games, ranking the Badgers in a tie for No. 4 nationally in fewest opponent red-zone chances. Duke leads the nation at 7, followed by Michigan (8) and Pittsburgh (10).

Illinois Notes to Consider

Illinois has seven fourth-quarter comeback wins in the last two seasons (five in 2014 and two so far in 2015). QB Wes Lunt has orchestrated five of those seven fourth-quarter comebacks, including both this season (vs. Middle Tennessee and vs. Nebraska).

The Illini rank in the top-30 nationally in eight different defensive stat categories, including blocked kicks (2), third down defense (4), TFLs (14), first downs allowed (14), passing efficiency defense (16), passing yards allowed (24), total defense (28) and scoring defense (30). 

Senior WR Geronimo Allison leads the B1G in receptions per game (6.7) and is one of two B1G players averaging over 100 yards per game (100.2). With 40 catches for 601 yards this season, Allison has matched his production from the entire 2014 season (41-598).

Illinois has won three of its last five Homecoming games, including a 28-24 victory over Minnesota last season, and has an all-time record of 45-57-2 on Homecoming.

For the second straight Homecoming game, the Fighting Illini will honor Hall of Famer Harold "Red" Grange, the Galloping Ghost, by wearing special "Gray Ghost" alternate uniforms against the Badgers. The uniforms debuted at Homecoming 2014 on the 90th anniversary of Grange's historic Homecoming performance against Michigan in the Memorial Stadium dedication game on Oct. 18, 1924. In that game, Grange scored four touchdowns and racked up 262 total yards in the first 12 minutes, then ran for a fifth touchdown and threw for a sixth to lead the Illini to a 39-14 victory in what many consider the greatest single-game performance in college football history.

Worgull's Predictions

Straight up: 6-1

Against the Spread: 5-2

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