Game #2 of the 2022 Big Ten football slate for Illinois has the Illini traveling north to Madison for a showdown with the Wisconsin Badgers. While this is normally written in as a loss with a permanent marker, some of our writers don’t seem to think that will happen this year. Read our predictions below:
Ethan Parker: Illinois 17 - Wisconsin 14
With Illinois heading north to the land of cheeseheads I couldn’t think of a more perfect time to make my first football prediction of the season. I have this game being your classic Big Ten west football game with kicking and defense galore. Illinois will walk into Camp Randall and control the contest from kickoff. The way I see it, our ground game is going to dominate the Wisconsin defense, controlling time of possession. With Wisconsin having limited chances, Graham Mertz (who has not looked good this season) is going to try to force the ball around the field, when you force the ball around the field usually mistakes follow. Illinois behind a smart/patient Tommy DeVito, ball-hawk defense, and bulldozing rushing attack will slowly deteriorate the life in the Wisconsin hopeful. Caleb Griffin ends his kicking woes and comes clutch with a big field goal down the stretch. Illinois wins in Camp Randall for the first time in 20 years.
Matt Rejc: Wisconsin 17 - Illinois 13
Everyone will agree that this game is almost certain to be low-scoring and close. Games like that can go either way very easily. At this point, Wisconsin and Illinois are virtually identical teams in terms of play style and ability. The narrow edge only goes to Wisconsin here because the game is being played on their home turf. I would absolutely predict an Illini victory if this game were being played in Champaign. Ryan Walters’ defense is perfectly suited to stopping Braelon Allen and the Badgers rush attack, but eventually Wisconsin’s offensive depth will overcome an exhausted Illinois defense and take the game away. It wasn’t too long ago that a trip to Madison was an unwinnable proposition for Illinois, and those days are fortunately gone. Though I don’t think this one goes in our favor, it will mark the beginning of the end of Wisconsin’s recent dominance over Illinois.
Brandt Dolce: Illinois 27 - Wisconsin 17
Bret Bielema comes back to Madison, and leaves town with a program-defining win. Chase Brown will carry the ball more then 30 times. The combination of Josh McCray Reggie Love will add another 15. Offensive Coordinator Barry Lunney clearly opened the playbook during the Bye Week, and Tommy DeVito looked comfortable executing variation sequences as the game progressed against Chattanooga. DC Ryan Walters will continue his national coming out party and his stingy secondary will keep the Badgers at bay.
Will Charlton: Wisconsin 20 - Illinois 17
I sadly already completely envision what’s going to happen. A true big ten west battle is going to be notched up at 17 with about 5 minutes to play and the Badgers will be punting to the Illini. The Illini will then have to settle for a 35-40 yard field goal that will be missed with about 2 minutes to play. The special teams miscues will be what costs the Illini the game late as the Badgers will then get in field goal range themselves and escape the Illini with a 20-17 win keeping their hopes of winning the Big Ten West alive. I think the Illini can win this game and I won’t be shocked by any means if we do (I’d be thrilled in fact) but I sadly just think that Griffin’s kicking struggles will be what costs us a huge road win. But ILL, hope they prove me wrong.
Pleas Honeywood: Wisconsin 15 - Illinois 10
I have gone back and forth on this. Do I think that Wisconsin is wrecked after being pistol whipped by Ohio State or will they be ready, willing and able to extract a pound of navy and orange flesh? I think this will be a defensive struggle. Wisconsin may not find the endzone against Ryan Walters’ defense. But I fear the inconsistent Illini offensive line will struggle with Wisconsin’s stout front. I think Illinois has a real shot to win this game, but I have to see it to believe it.
Benjamin Pekay: Wisconsin 21 - Illinois 17
Since the offensive struggles against Indiana, the Illini dominated Chattanooga and have a lot of fans hope that this team is different. At the end of the day, this game will come down to whose offense is more productive. Tommy Devito needs to limit turnovers and find a way to throw the ball down field which he has struggled to do all season. I expect this game to be a slugfest the entire time but the Badgers will rely on Braylen Allen and force multiple defensive turnovers. In true Illinois fashion, they will come up just short. Please prove me wrong, Illini.
Kyle Tausk: Wisconsin 20 - Illinois 14
I’m extremely high on this Illinois team after what I’ve seen these first 4 weeks. That still isn’t enough to make me pick them to win on the road at Camp Randall. Wisconsin still has an extremely talented defense despite getting manhandled by Ohio State because let’s be honest, there’s very few defenses in the country that wouldn’t. I think Illinois’ offensive line will struggle in this one facing by far their biggest test of the season and I’m not sure if that Chase Brown 100-yard streak will continue. With that being said, Graham Mertz is not a quarterback to be scared of and Ryan Walters’ defense has earned the trust of this fanbase with the way they’ve played over the past calendar year. I expect this to be a close game with each defense making some big plays, but I’m going to have to see it to believe it in regards to Illinois winning a road game against a team like Wisconsin.
Drew Pastorek: Illinois 19 - Wisconsin 16
Like my comrades I am also anticipating a competitive, low-scoring, bowling shoe-ugly affair. It’s no secret that the defense has carried the way for both squads thus far – and I believe this is the best defense the Illini and the Badgers will have faced to this point. If you’ve listened to Oskee Talk the past several weeks (shameless plug), you’ve probably heard me talk about “trust.” And I actually Illinois waaaaay more than I trust Wisconsin. Chase Brown is a stud in the backfield, Tommy DeVito has been in command of the offense, and Ryan Walters’ defense has played fast & aggressive. The only thing that I’m nervous about is the Illini’s special teams, so I naturally predict this game will come down to a field goal. Losing to the Badgers won’t be all that detrimental, but a win would virtually guarantee a bowl bid with SEVEN GAMES remaining.
Alex Orr: Wisconsin 24 - Illinois 13
If you came to me for hard-hitting, objective analysis about this game, I’m sorry to disappoint. My whole prediction is based purely on vibes and feelings. My feelings about a generic upcoming Illini game fall into four camps: a sure win, pretty confident, we at least have a shot, and not a prayer. You would think the win percentage would stairstep down from “a sure win” to “not a prayer,” and that’s the case four 3 of the 4 camps. The outlier is the “we have a shot” camp, which although I don’t keep official stats, I’m pretty sure has a winning percentage around 0. My head is telling me that this is the best Illini defense in at least a decade and the offense is finding its groove, so we at least have a shot against what seems like a weaker-than-usual Badger team. My heart knows what this means and would like to profusely apologize for what’s going to happen Saturday afternoon.
Mihir Chavan: Illinois 24 - Wisconsin 20
The mantra has always been 3 TDs and a field goal. I think if Illinois does the minimum, they win this game. Bielema is going to have his guys ready and I think the in expereinced, small secondary is going to have problems with this offense. If they focus on Chase too much, Illinois does have a passing attack that they can use. Its not as one dimensional as they used to be. On defense, Illinois will have some issues getting to the QB, but I think with starters on Wisconsin’s O-line being injured and the lack of star recievers, Illinois can focus on Braelon Allen and force Graham Mertz to throw. It will be a hard fought game where the Illinois defense shines and the offense does just enough to bring Bielema his first win against his old team.
Jack Jungmann: Wisconsin 16 - Illinois 13
Illinois football plays a big ten game with large implications this weekend. How long has it been since we’ve been able to say that? I’ve gone back and forth on this prediction all week. Being myself, a pessimistic Illini fan, I’m taking the Badgers to win. The theory here is to expect disappointment so that you can’t be disappointed. It’s honestly fool-proof (not really, I’ll be convinced we’re gonna win after drive #1). I don’t see Illinois going into Camp Randall and winning just yet. The rebuild is progressing greatly, however I do not believe we are there as a program just there yet. At the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if we win at the same time. One thing I can guarantee is that Bret will have the boys ready to play. It will be fun, that’s for sure. Give me the Badgers by a field goal.