Posted October 18, 2013 on
AP on Fox
Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown says No. 25 Wisconsin's offense has it all.
Big offensive line, a pair of big-game backs and a passing game that can make a defense loosened up by the run game pay.
''As a linebacker, you dream of playing games like this in the Big Ten,'' said Brown, who grew up in SEC country in Memphis. ''They might be one of the gold standards for running the ball in the country.''
But when the Badgers (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) come to Illinois Saturday night, there are two things they'll be missing: a road win and first place in the Big Ten's Leaders Division. One of their losses was at division leader Ohio State.
''To be a good team and have any chance at all to talk to yourself at the end of the year about being a great team, you have to win on the road, and you've got to be able to find a way to get that done,'' first-year head coach Gary Andersen said. ''It hasn't happened yet.''
The Badgers' offense is a force. Melvin Gordon's 145 yards rushing a game is No. 3 in the country and James White is ranked 28th with 95.7 a game. As a team, Wisconsin is running for 298.2 yards a game, fifth best in the country.
And quarterback Joel Stave's 216.2 passing yards a game quietly put him at No. 4 in the Big Ten.
Brown is one of the country's better linebackers. His 60 tackles are tops in the conference. But he leads a defense that isn't very good at stopping what the Badger offense does best. Illinois (3-2, 0-1) gives up 195.4 yards a game on the ground. In the Big Ten, only Indiana is worse.
Illinois defensive coordinator Tim Banks said his team knows what to expect on Saturday.
''They're going to pound, pound, pound until you wear down,'' Banks said.
Five things to watch Saturday night at Memorial Stadium:
THE LIGHTS ARE ON: Illinois doesn't play many night games and Andersen isn't crazy about them. But after working at Utah State and Utah before the Utes moved to the Pac 12, ''I'm used to the abnormal schedules,'' he said. ''You might play on Tuesday. You might play on Thursday.''
Illinois appears to like the idea of a 7 p.m. kickoff.
''The whole environment is more electric,'' Brown said.
NEW DEFENSE PAYING OFF: Andersen's 3-4 defense is a new look for Wisconsin and it's giving the Badgers an edge.
Wisconsin is giving up just 13.2 points a game, best in the Big Ten and fifth in the country.
New Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit says Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland, who leads the team with 56 tackles, and the rest of the Badgers' defenders carry themselves like they expect to dominate.
''You can tell they're used to winning,'' Cubit said. ''These guys, they don't hope, they know.''
FIFTEEN, AND COUNTING? Illinois hasn't won in the Big Ten since October 2011, 15 straight losses. The first six came on Ron Zook's watch and were a big part of the reason he was fired at the end of 2011. The eight straight conference losses last season - by an average of 23.4 points a game - fed enough angst in Champaign that athletic director Mike Thomas felt the need to tell fans that first-year head coach Tim Beckman would be back.
Wisconsin is a double-digit favorite, but games in Champaign aren't a given for the Badgers. Illinois has won two of the past five.
COMEBACK FOR ILLINI ATTACK: The Illini offense is much stronger this season than last, averaging 457.2 yards and 36 points a game.
Badger defensive end Patrick Muldoon thinks Illinois' offense benefits from the 14 receivers senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has used.
''I feel like he's always been a guy who seems to have a lot of confidence on the field and I think maybe, as a team, their offense has more confidence out there and it's helping him get the ball to other people to make plays, too, so he doesn't have to always do it by himself,'' Muldoon said.
Scheelhaase's 1,297 passing yards are just 64 short of his total for 2012, and his 12 touchdowns are triple last year's production.
MISSING THEIR KICK: Badger kickers have made just five of nine field goal attempts this season.
Jack Russell, who has missed his only field goal attempt, should get a chance this week, Andersen said.
''Jack deserves an opportunity. We'll see how he handles it during practice, and we'll go from there,'' the coach said.
Follow David Mercer on Twitter: https://twitter.com/davidmercerap
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Last week the Badger faithful saw Kyle French miss a 38-yard field goal attempt against Northwestern. It led to Jack Russell taking the rest of the kicks for the game and a new plan to have Russell be the kicker of choice this week at Illinois.
However, it appears that French's time with the program is coming to an end at the end of this season, at least according to his...
MADISON, Wis. -- Kyle French lost more than his starting kicking job when he missed a 38-yard field goal wide left against Northwestern last week. Apparently, he also will lose his scholarship.
French, a redshirt junior from Menomonee Falls, Wis., posted on his Facebook page Thursday night that he would not be back with the team for his senior season.
"I want to personally...
No. 25 Wisconsin is on the road and going against an Illinois team that has a good quarterback.
Yet, the Badgers are favored by as many as 14 12 points. Finding someone to pick the Illini to win was nearly impossible (even from Illinois fans - look at the comments from the Champaign article).
Of course, Wisconsin is 0-2 in night games this season and have struggled defensively against...
Well, this is something you don’t see every day. Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen has confirmed that starting linebacker Chris Borland will kick all field goals longer than 45 yards in Saturday’s game against Illinois. Really.
#Badgers Gary Andersen says LB Chris Borland will handle FGs of 45+ against Illinois. Jack Russell will handle inside of that.
— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin...
MADISON, Wis. -- And so Wisconsin's kicking situation has come to this: A linebacker, who has never attempted a field goal in his entire college career, is now the Badgers' long-range kicker should the scenario arise in an actual game.
Yes, there is very little Wisconsin senior Chris Borland can't do, it seems. But how well does he kick field goals? We may soon find...
MADISON, Wis. -- Deep in the recesses of Ohio Stadium, Gary Andersen somberly addressed the possibility that Wisconsin's Big Ten championship hopes had been crushed for good. It was only late September, yet he acknowledged Ohio State's 31-24 victory against Wisconsin meant the Badgers no longer controlled their path to a fourth straight conference title.
Despite his misery...
MADISON, Wis. -- The two-deep depth chart for Wisconsin's football team features an unusual scenario at cornerback this season, one rarely seen across the major college football landscape: two freshmen listed side-by-side.
Given the scrutiny that comes with playing corner -- and the difficulties of mastering such a complex spot -- few newcomers typically find themselves in position...
The learning curve is getting easier at Wisconsin.
The 25th-ranked Badgers feel they're hitting their stride after a dominant win, and they'll look to stay focused for a potentially tricky trip to Champaign on Saturday night to face Illinois.
Coach Gary Andersen switched to a 3-4 scheme and installed new packages in his first year in Madison. It's been a learning process...
When a starting linebacker is also named the field goal specialist for kicks longer than 45 yards, you just know there are going to be some jokes in response. Last night, Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen announced that the Badgers will be using linebacker Chris Borland on long field goal tries – a move that, needless to say, is interesting. The team is moving away from using Kyle...
Melvin Gordon runs against Northwestern in last weekend’s game. (AP Photo)
It has been nearly three years since the Wisconsin football team won a road game against a ranked opponent.
On Oct. 23, 2010, Wisconsin defeated Iowa, 31-30, in Iowa City. However, it’s worth noting that the Badgers were ranked No. 10 at the time, and the Hawkeyes were ranked No. 13.
If you really want...
The No. 25 ranked Wisconsin Badgers will travel to play against the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday.
At 4-2 Wisconsin has shown both the good and bad this season they hope for more of the former as they play against a 3-2 Illinois team this weekend.
Coverage of the game between Wisconsin and Illinois will air on the Big Ten Network beginning at 8:00 pm ET from Memorial Stadium...
He's been broken and rebuilt many times in his five years with the program, but senior linebacker Ethan Armstrong is a big reason why Wisconsin's defense is one of the best in the country.
Join us for some nighttime football in our live blog of the Wisconsin-Illinois game.
Kickoff on Saturday is set for 7 p.m. CT, but we'll start up around 6:30 p.m.
So come join us -- whether you are sitting at home on your couch or out and about using a mobile device -- for updates and analysis as well as submitting your own comments and questions.
(Note: mobile users might want...
Linebacker Chris Borland has missed a second day of practice for No. 22 Wisconsin as he recovers from a strained right hamstring.
Coach Gary Andersen said earlier this week that he expected his star senior to be ready for Saturday's game at Iowa.
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said Wednesday that Borland was held out as a precaution, and that the team wants to make sure...