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Badgers 38, Illini 28: One Week Closer To Freedom

Despite a fun and close first half, Illinois falls to Wisconsin in Madison.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

For about 20-25 minutes, Illinois actually managed to make a decent game of it. If you like moral victories, I guess you can claim that as one. But once the second half started, the Illini reverted back to the pumpkins they've been all season. To the bullet points

Il buono:

  • Justin DuVernois. You know things are bad when I lead off what was good in the game with the punter, but DuVernois deserves to be recognized. JDV punted seven times for a 55.6 yard average, including a massive 72 yarder. That's damn fine work.
  • V'Angelo Bentley. Vanjo continues to be one of the most dynamic players on the team, averaging 27.2 yards per return over five kickoffs. Him and JDV both allowed Illinois to stay in the game via field position, which was direly needed with how bad the offense and defense were.
  • Aaron Bailey's running game. In one quarter of play, Aaron Bailey managed to outgain the entire rest of the team in rushing yards. The Bailer racked up 75 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. He added a nice explosive element to a game that was sorely lacking it on the Illini side.

Il cattivo:

  • The defense against the run. We all knew that Wisconsin was going to gash the Illini on the ground. It's what they do and it's what we have done to us. That doesn't make giving up 8.5 yards per carry any less awful though.
  • The offense. Take away Bailey's 4th quarter hustle and what do you have? 174 yards of offense, that's what. Other than Mike Dudek's 4 catches for 59 yards and Baileys 75 rushing yards, there is nothing pretty to look at here.
  • Trying to stretch the ball out on 4th and 2. We don't have a good enough offensive line for that. I like that we're going for it in those situations, but we really need to start calling plays that might succeed.

Il bruto:

  • Our offensive line. Six sacks allowed. Zero running game present until Bailey was subbed in and put the offense on his back.
  • Bringing Bailey in for the 4th quarter. When Wes Lunt got hurt, we all knew that the dream of redshirting Bailey this fall was over. It sucks, but it's what was going to happen. But why wait until the 4th quarter to make that move? I might actually have just as much arm strength as Reilly O'Toole and my delivery certainly couldn't be any slower. Bailey needs to be starting until Lunt comes back. To wait until the 4th quarter in a game that actually could have been winnable is the most Tim Beckman thing you could do.

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