Illini Look Absolutely Brutal in Ugly Loss to Wisconsin Badgers

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Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema emphasized all week that he would like his program to follow the blueprint of the Wisconsin Badgers, whom he led to a 68-24 record from 2006-2012. Wisconsin has only missed missed a bowl game since 2000, won the Big Ten West six times and the league three times this millenium.

“For us to get to where we want to be,” Bielema said. “I’ve defined [Wisconsin] as a model for what we’re trying to be.” he said at his weekly Monday presser. As today showed us, they have a VERY LONG way to go, as the Badgers dominated them 24-0 on the scoreboard and 484-93 in yardage.

 

Bielema also said that the Illini had had this game on their minds for a long time, but stressed that it was not because it was against his former team, but because the program in Madison has been the rulers of the division.

“The respect [the Badgers] have had is something that we would like to have here,” he said.

But once again, he echoed:

“This game is about the University of Illinois football against the University of Wisconsin football.”

Well, U of I is light years away from U of W at this point. The Badgers entered this one really licking their wounds, on the heels of a 38-17 loss at home to Michigan; their first loss to UM at Camp Randall since 2001.

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It marked 8 straight losses vs ranked teams, the longest stretch that the program has had in that regard, in close to 30 years. They were -9 on turnover margin on the year, and 1-3 for the first time since 1990.

They also handed Jim Harbaugh his first win ever as an underdog at Michigan. But they out-rushed Illinois 391-26, with the Illini gaining just two yards per carry. Chaz Mellusi had 145 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown while Braelon Allen had 131 yards rushing, and a TD on 18 carries.

Wisconsin dominated the line of scrimmage, on both sides of the ball, as Illinois just couldn’t protect their quarterback at all, whether it was Brandon Peters or Artur Sitkowski.

After starting 0-13, Sitkowki finished 8-27 passing for 55 yards.

In the run up to the game, Illini defensive coordinator Ryan Walters expressed his excitement about playing this homecoming affair against UW, and unlike Bielema, acknowledged the elephant in the room here.

“There’s a lot that goes into this game,” he said.

“Everyone is going to say that this is just another game, c’mon man. Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room, Coach B used to be there.”

It’s just too bad they couldn’t put up a better showing, given that this was a circle the sate affair, and this is as down as Wisconsin has been in decades.

Even Graham Mertz played okay today against the Illini- as he went 10-19 passing for 100 yards, and carried twice for 22 yards.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune.

He co-hosts the After Extra Time podcast. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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