The three matchups that will decide the outcome when Wisconsin football takes on the Illinois Fighting Illini.
I think every Wisconsin football fan would like to forget about the game this past weekend. For many stretches of the game, Wisconsin looked outmatched and unable to overcome mistakes. They hung around early, but Michigan proved they were a better team and took over the game in the second half. Wisconsin will be looking to put the Michigan game behind them and bounce back this weekend at home against Illinois.
The offense had its moments in the first half. The offensive line was creating holes and Jonathan Taylor was running hard and making shifty moves into the secondary. It was an encouraging sign early on. However, when Wisconsin decided or was forced to throw the ball it was a disaster. Alex Hornibrook was unable to gather any type of a rhythm and consistently missed throws all night. In obvious passing downs, the Michigan pass rush created enough pressure to make Hornibrook uncomfortable and force poor throws. It is a night that Hornibrook would like to forget.
Despite giving up a lot of yardage and a good amount of points I thought the defense put forth a pretty solid effort, especially early on. The secondary was banged up going into the game and that trend continued. Scott Nelson and Faion Hicks both had to leave the game with injuries. True freshman Reggie Pearson got banged up as well but showed a lot of promise as a hard-hitting safety who is not afraid to make plays in run support.
As a unit, the secondary exceeded the expectations I had for them in this game. The defensive line held up well early on but started to run out of gas late in the game. T.J. Edwards and Ryan Connelly continue to be a bright spot for this defense that is desperately looking for another playmaker.
Illinois comes into this game with a 3-3 record after being throttled by Purdue last week. Quarterback A.J. Bush Jr. looked to be having success early on running the ball but that was quickly shut down by the Purdue defense. The Illinois defense continues to struggle, especially defending the pass. They are susceptible to giving up huge passing performances just about every Saturday. And they are not much better at defending the run. The Fighting Illini have given up at least 225 rushing yards three times this season. This is a recipe that the Wisconsin Badgers could definitely take advantage of.
This should be a game that the Wisconsin defense can take to catch its breath and work on developing their young players. They have some playmakers on offense, but they do not have the talent that Wisconsin saw last week against Michigan. Illinois is a struggling team that has deficiencies on both sides of the ball.
Here are the most important matchups between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Illinois Fighting Illini.