Illinois defense will test Wisconsin QB making his first career start

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Thursday, October 19, 2023

Wisconsin (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) at Illinois (3-4, 1-3), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (FS1).

Line: Illinois by 2 1/2, according to .

Series record: Wisconsin leads 44-39-7.


Only two of the seven teams in the Big Ten West have a winning record in the conference: Iowa (3-1) and Wisconsin (2-1). The Badgers need a win to keep pace or move in front of the Hawkeyes, who play host to Big Ten West foe Minnesota (1-2). Illinois' upset victory over Maryland last week kept the Illini out of the Big Ten West basement. A homecoming win over Wisconsin would keep the Illini's scant division hopes alive.


Wisconsin QB Braedyn Locke vs. the Illinois defense. Locke will make his first collegiate start. He completed 15-of-30 passes for 122 yards in Wisconsin's 15-6 loss to Iowa last week after coming in late in the second quarter after Tanner Mordecai broke his throwing hand. The Illinois defense has been the Illini's strength, keeping them in games when the offense has stalled.


Wisconsin: WR Chimere Dike has caught 15 passes for 272 yards and a TD after leading the Badgers last year with 47 catches, 689 receiving yards and six TD passes. He also returns kickoffs and punts. He has 197 yards on eight kickoff returns this season.

Illinois: DT Jer'Zhan Newton is third in the nation in quarterback pressures by an interior defender with 25, according to Pro Football Focus, and second in defensive stops with 21. Newton was an AP Second-Team All-American last season.


Illinois coach Bret Bielema was the Wisconsin coach from 2006-12. In his seven years as coach of the Badgers, Bielema won three three Big Ten championships, went to six bowl games, and compiled a 68-24 record. ... Illinois' Isaiah Williams leads the Big Ten in receptions with 42. ... Kaden Feagin and Seth Coleman of Illinois each earned a Big Ten honor for their play vs. Maryland. Feagin (19 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown) was the Freshman of the Week and Coleman (three sacks, six tackles, three tackles for loss) was the Defensive Player of the Week. ... Caleb Griffin's walk-off 43-yard field goal vs. Maryland was only the second on the road in Illinois history. Mike Bass made a 46-yarder to beat Wisconsin in 1982. ... Wisconsin has lost two of its best players to injuries. In addition to Mordecai, TB Chez Mellusi is out for the season with a broken fibula. ... Illinois won at Wisconsin for the first time in 20 years last season, beating the Badgers 34-10 and holding them to two yards rushing. ... The 1995 Wisconsin-Illinois game was the last college football game to end in a tie (3-3). Overtime rules went into effect in 1996.

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