Before the Purdue game, I had this feeling that anything was possible. A win against the Boilermakers would open a world of possibilities. Now, after what I witnessed in Champaign Saturday, I am not sure that I will even be able to watch this massacre. Jonathan Taylor is going to run for over 200 yards and 3-4 touchdowns and Alex Hornibrook will pick apart the secondary. This game won’t be close and will be over by halftime as Wisconsin goes on to win. Wisconsin 52, Illinois 14.
You might recall way back before the season started, TCR ranked the 12 games on the Illini Football schedule, from most winnable to least. The Wisconsin Badgers are up next, and this is a Wisconsin team that was humiliated in primetime last weekend in Ann Arbor. This weekend Wisconsin will be at home. They’ll be angry, and they’ll likely take out that rage against an Illinois team that allowed a whopping 8.0 yards-per-carry to Purdue’s top two running backs last weekend. Purdue has the eighth best rushing offense in the Big Ten, Wisconsin has the the first. Wisconsin starts fast in the first half and takes their foot off the gas in the second half. Wisconsin 45, Illinois 13
I’ve lost a lot of faith in this program over the just the past week or so. That Purdue game was brutal, and I was emotionally hungover all day Sunday because of it. That being said, while I think the offense still holds a bit of promise under Rod Smith, I am not convinced that Lovie’s defensive scheme will work any longer. Jonathan Taylor (and yes, even Alex Hornibrook!) will have nice offensive days, and Illinois will likely struggle to score again. Hopefully Mike Epstein actually gets some carries. But at this point, who knows? Wisconsin 37, Illinois 14
If Purdue could have their way with us at home, on Homecoming, wait until you see Saturday. Wisconsin is coming off the ugliest loss I can remember since Cardale Jones and Co. beat them up real good in the Big Ten Championship game, and a proud program is going to bounce back in a bad way. I think Illinois could score a few touchdowns in this one, but I think Wisconsin is going to score a few more behind that dominating line and one of the best running backs (New Jersey) in the country. Wisconsin 48, Illinois 21
Okay, call me crazy. I think Illinois hangs with Wisconsin. Alex Hornibrook is a meh quarterback. Can we stop Jonathan Taylor? No. However, if our offense gets back on track, and AJ Bush opens up the offense just a little bit throwing the ball, we can score points (as Michigan can attest). I still have hope, albeit it fleetingly. Wisconsin 42, Illinois 30
I was on a Wisconsin radio station Thursday morning (6:35 a.m. WOO!!), and they were saying how much better they thought Illinois was this year than last. Then I had to become all negative. And then I felt bad. And then they asked me for a score prediction. And I said 40-10. So there you go. Wisconsin 40, Illinois 10
I think this one will be similar to the Illini’s game against Penn State. The Illini will hang around for a half but will eventually get overwhelmed by a superior Wisconsin team. I expect the Illini to have a good offensive game plan that will take advantage of their strengths in the run game, but after halftime, I expect Jim Leonhard and Wisconsin to scheme a way to stop the Illini run game. On the other side of the ball, the Badgers will score early and often, but a few first half turnovers will keep the Illini in it before Wisconsin blows this open in the second half. Wisconsin 52, Illinois 21
Coming off of last week’s debacle, I have to believe that the Illini will have a better showing this week. Despite that, it won’t be enough to overcome a strong, talented Wisconsin team. I think the game will be decided by halftime, but Illinois’s offense may be able to pick up some garbage-time scores to make it seem closer on the surface. Wisconsin 45, Illinois 24
I see a result similar to the Penn State game. It’s a game we shouldn’t be in and won’t end up close, but for a few quarters we’ll make it interesting. AJ Bush gets a passing touchdown and Reggie Corbin breaks off a long run, but then the debacle will start in earnest just after halftime. We simply don’t have the depth or the talent to play four quarters with Wisconsin, and the final score will say it all. Wisconsin 45, Illinois 21
All you need to know about this game is that Wisconsin is ranked 5th in the S&P on offense and can run the hell out of the ball like always with a fantastic running back. Illinois cannot stop the run. Illinois is going to lose. Illinois can play their best game of the season and lose by three TDs. I’m not being negative here, that’s just the reality of the difference between where the Badgers are and where the Illini are. Illinois has won at Camp Randall since 2002 mind you, and have also only won three times on the road against the Badgers since Barry Alvarez was hired in 1990. THERE WAS A 3-3 TIE THOUGH IN 1995! BEE ONE GEE! BEE ONE GEE!
(Damn, so I’m 25 and Illinois has only every beat Wisconsin once on the road with one tie. Hell, they’ve only beating Wisconsin twice in my life. Illinois is bad. Wisconsin is good.)
I do think Wisconsin will be in such total control of this game where they won’t actually score as much as some of my fellow writers think — similar to last season when they only scored 24 against Illinois, but only because they didn’t have to and no interest in doing so. Wisconsin 31, Illinois 16