Badgers get the home win to move to 1-1 in the Big 10. And it was not easy, even though the final margin was fairly comfortable. The first half was something of a nightmare for Wisconsin again. The running game was absolutely non-existent. The Badgers made mistakes. Joel Stave was inconsistent and at one point got yanked in favor of Curt Phillips (I’m sure this will be discussed a lot more as we move along). Illinois’ defense was making some plays and seemingly gaining confidence. Things seemed to be going downhill.
The Badgers were trailing 7-0 until well into the second quarter. Then they finally hit a big play on offense to loosen things up. Matt Canada dialed up a screen to James White and it was executed flawlessly. White ran 62 yards for the TD. That allowed the Badgers to go into the locker room at 7-7.
Fans have been wondering all year when the old Badgers would finally show up. Well they did today, but it took until well into the third quarter. The fourth quarter was completely dominated by Wisconsin. The big play was a 59-yard TD pass from Joel Stave to Jared Abbrederis on play action. That play and the earlier big screen pass to James White were huge because they exploited an over-aggressive Illinois defense. Matt Canada finally found ways to make teams pay for selling out to stop the run. If the Badgers can do that, they’ll find running lanes opening up, and Montee Ball and company will be able to operate.
The last couple series looked like the true old Wisconsin offense. The holes were huge. Montee Ball went from a terrible day to over 100 yards in seemingly the blink of an eye. Does this mean the troubles are over? Probably not. This is clearly not a very good Illinois team. The defense was salty in the early going but the offense did very little and the D got tired as the game wore on. And like I said, the Badgers offense was able to exploit their aggressive approach.
Good solid win for the Badgers against a bad team. Now we’ll see if they can come out next week and find their offensive momentum a little earlier. Waiting until the third quarter to get things going…not a great approach.
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