Four Things to Watch: Illinois-Wisconsin
Wisconsin must feel like a free football team. They’re finally through a gauntlet of tough games, and the path is clear for Badgers to play in the Big Ten Championship game. That being said, nothing is given. We learned on Tuesday night that huge upsets can happen now and again not only in politics but also with sports. Lovie Smith had some success in the State of Wisconsin as a pro coach, but it might not be the same for him in the college ranks.
Corey Clement could have a massive day
Illinois cannot stop the run to save their soul. They have some talented defensive linemen that we’ll get to momentarily, but they are great pass-rushers more than anything else. Clement could have anywhere from 150-200 yards against this Illini defense. Bradrick Shaw will probably have his moments in this game as well. While Clement had some big games, we haven’t seen one where he’s the best player on the field. I think that happens on Saturday.
Illinois run game isn’t too bad, either.
Badgers defense is one of the best in the country, and they have shook off more challenges than a battle rapper. They get this Illini rushing attack who has been their reason for offensive success this year. Kendrick Foster and Reggie Corbin is a solid one-two punch, and Corbin is a different kind of runner that Wisconsin hasn’t seen much of this season as an undersized back. Badgers could be in for a challenge. Illinois will try to run the ball and control clock.
This should be fun in the trenches
Fighting Illini might be 3-6 on the season, but they have three defensive linemen that are going to draft very early in May. Dawuane Smoot, Carroll Phillips and Chunky Clements (GREAT NAME) could all be troublemakers for Wisconsin’s offensive line. They will need to hold the line when Alex Hornibrook or Bart Houston drops back to pass. Given Illinois’ pass rush, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more Houston with Hornibrook’s troubles to avoid the sack lunches.
Who’s at QB for Illinois?
Jeff George Jr. has been slinging the pigskin for the last three weeks. He actually looked okay against pitiful Michigan State, but this is a whole another animal with Wisconsin. But Wes Lunt who is on his 10th year of eligibility might be ready to play after an injury. Lunt did some work against Badgers last season throwing for 278. Either way, Wisconsin should be able to come home a couple times and get a few turnovers.
It’s completely fair to expect a slow start for Wisconsin. They get their first ‘easy’ opponent, and they might come slow out of the gates. Wisconsin ends up coming on strong in the second half and dominates in all facets. Badgers pull away and it isn’t close by the middle of the fourth. UW 38-14