No. 6 Wisconsin (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) at Illinois (2-4, 0-3), Saturday at 12 p.m. EDT (BTN).
Line: Wisconsin by 30 1/2.
Series record: Wisconsin leads 42-36-7.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Not much for Wisconsin, other than perhaps gaining a spot in the rankings. The Badgers have dominated Illinois in recent years, winning 13 of 14 and nine in a row. Nothing is expected to change Saturday. Illinois had high hopes entering coach Lovie Smith’s fourth year, but sloppy offense, inconsistent defense and a rash of injuries, including starting quarterback Brandon Peters, have left Smith’s future in doubt unless his squad plays much better in the season’s second half. It’s unclear if Peters, out with a concussion suffered Oct. 5 at Minnesota, will play.
Wisconsin’s explosive and unrelenting offense against an Illinois defense coached by Smith himself after former defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson left last year. The Badgers average 42.5 points a game, eighth in the FBS, and quarterback Jack Coan has completed 103 of 135 passes with eight touchdowns and one interception.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Wisconsin: Heisman candidate Jonathan Taylor is averaging 137.5 rushing yards a game and also leads the FBS with 18 touchdowns — 14 rushing and four receiving. He goes up against a run defense best described as porous. The Illini gave up 346 yards rushing, including a 100-yarder against Nebraska, 332 to Minnesota and 295 to Michigan.
Illinois: Quarterback Matt Robinson, provided he starts this week in lieu of Peters. Robinson has looked steady at the helm and is more than capable of managing a game. Robinson was 16 of 25 for 192 yards and one touchdown last week against Michigan. He also ran for a score. Also watch running back Reggie Corbin, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last year and is due for a breakout game.
FACTS & FIGURES
Wisconsin’s current nine-game winning streak against Illinois is the longest by either team in series history. … The Illini are 20-18-3 all-time against Wisconsin in Champaign, and 1-10 all-time against Wisconsin teams ranked in the AP poll. … Last season, No. 23 Wisconsin beat Illinois 49-20 in Madison as the Fighting Illini couldn’t overcome four first-half turnovers.
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