After Illinois looked to capture some momentum at the end of the first half, Wisconsin took care of business in the second half with 28 of the net 35 point sin the game en route to a 56-32 victory. The win moves Wisconsin to 3-1 in Big Ten play, keeping the Badgers one game back of Ohio State in the loss column in the Big Ten Leaders Division.
Wisconsin relied on their strengths against Illinois. The Badgers rushed for a team total of 289 yards while holding the Illini to 72 rushing yards on 29 attempts. Melvin Gordon led all players with 142 rushing yards and three touchdowns for Wisconsin and James White and Corey Clement combined for three more rushing touchdowns. White also finished with 98 rushing yards. Wisconsin also got a productive day from their quarterback, Joel Stave. Stave passed for 189 yards and two touchdowns.
Illinois did get a good performance from quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. Scheelhaase completed 20 of 27 passes for 249 yards and rushed for 18 yards and a touchdown. The Badgers also lost linebacker Chris Borland, who did not return. Borland suffered a right leg injury but head coach Gary Andersen seemed optimistic about his status after the game.
Wisconsin will need some help to get past Ohio State in the Big Ten standings, having lost head-to-head already. Wisconsin also needs to work through their remaining schedule, which includes a road trip to an improved Iowa team in two weeks after a bye and ends at home against Penn State with a road trip to Minnesota before that. Wisconsin should be favored in each of their remaining match-ups, and if they play the way they did Saturday night at Illinois, they should win those games as well.
Illinois has now dropped two straight since opening their Big Ten schedule and it may not get a whole lot easier. Illinois hosts Michigan State and their tough defense next week and travels to Penn State two weeks later.