The Illinois Fighting Illini will get a chance to play their first Big Ten conference game of the 2013 season in primetime on the Big ten Network. After traveling to Lincoln, the Illini will come back home to face off against the Wisconsin Badgers. Many Illini fan are hoping that their team will win more games in Tim Beckman’s second season as head coach. Could this game be Beckman’s first Big Ten win as Illinois’ head coach? Let’s take a deeper look at this Big Ten home opener for Illinois.
2012 Record: 8-6 (4-4 in the Big Ten)
Key Losses: QB Danny O’Brien, RB Montee Ball, LB Mike Taylor, DB Devin Smith
Key Returners: LB Chris Borland, DT Ethan Hemer, WR Jared Abbrederis, TE Jacob Pedersen, RB James White
Player to Watch: RB James White
Even though Wisconsin will have a new coach, expect the Badgers the try and keep their run game strong in 2013. James White will be the main running back for Wisconsin this season. He ran for 806 yards and twelve touchdowns last season, but will still have to fill the big shoes left by former Wisconsin running back Montee Ball. Ball was the eighth straight Badger running back to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Good thing for Wisconsin this year will be that White has a 1,000-yard season under his belt already (1,052 rushing yards as a freshman).
Prediction: Illinois 31 – Wisconsin 27
Life will be very different for the Wisconsin Badgers in 2013. They have a new head coach and lost their best running back, linebacker, and defensive back from a year ago. Gary Andersen will find out that the Big Ten is a very different place than the Mountain West Conference. The Badgers will also come into Champaign after playing two conference games against Ohio State and Northwestern. There is a good chance that Wisconsin enters their match-up with the Illini at 0-2 in the Big Ten. This could be the chance for Illinois to kick the Badgers while they are down.
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