Although they have two losses on the year, the Wisconsin Badgers are a properly spotted football away from being 5-1 in 2013. Head coach Gary Andersen has come in from Utah State and has his Badgers playing some very sound football.
Coming into this weekend’s match-up with the Fighting Illini, Wisconsin is coming off of a nice offensive performance against the Northwestern Wildcats. In that win, the Badgers were able to put up a total of 35 points along with 527 total yards.
The offense for the Badgers is lead by sophomore quarterback Joel Stave. So far this season, Stave has only completed around 61% of his passes for 1,297 yards and has throw 11 touchdown compared to six interceptions.
Last week against Northwestern, he completed 17 passes for 241 yards and threw for three touchdowns compared to two interceptions.
However, the Wisconsin passing game will not be Illinois’ biggest challenge come Saturday. That title will go to Wisconsin’s rushing attack.
Illinois was dominated on the ground by Nebraska two weeks ago as they let Ameer Abdullah run all over them. This time they could have two different running backs to watch out for.
In the Badgers’ 35-6 victory over Northwestern, the team had two backs go over 100 rushing yards in the game. Sophomore running back Melvin Gordon ran for 172 yards on 22 carries and scored one touchdown while senior running back James White racked up 101 yards on 19 carries and scored one touchdown as well.
With this two-headed rushing attack, the Wisconsin Badgers will be a tough conference foe for the Illini this weekend. Out of the team’s six games this season, Gordon has rushed for over 100 yards five times while White has done it four times.
Overall, this will be the toughest test for the Illini defense so far this season.
Wisconsin has proved that they are to be taken serious under head coach Gary Andersen and are two Ohio State losses from a Big Ten title bid (easier said than done).
The most important aspect of this game for Illinois’ defense will be to stop the run. The Badgers have more weapons than Nebraska had and could make the Illini pay. Gordon and White have the ability to break off 100 yards and a Wisconsin victory will be certain if they do so on Saturday.
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