FINAL: Wisconsin 31, Illinois 14
MADISON, Wis. — Joel Stave threw two touchdown passes and Wisconsin's running game showed signs of life as the Badgers defeated Illinois 31-14 on Saturday.
Stave threw for 254 yards for the Badgers (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten), who rushed for 173 yards 96 in the fourth quarter.
The offensive struggles of the Illini (2-4, 0-2) continued, with quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase the only positive. He finished with 178 yards passing and 84 rushing as Illinois gained 287 yards overall.
Scheelhaase ran for a 5-yard touchdown in the first quarter and threw for an 8-yard touchdown to Ryan Lankford to make it 24-14 late in the game.
But Jared Abberdaris fielded the ensuing onside kick, and Montee Ball scored his second touchdown of the game to snuff any hopes of an Illinois comeback.
Ball has 59 rushing TDs in his career, nine shy of the NCAA record. He finished with 19 carries for 116 yards.
HQ Live Report — Wisconsin 10, Illinois 7 — End of third quarter
Third-quarter star: Nathan Scheelhaase's running ability. The QB pulled off a great play-fake and sprinted 29 yards to get the Illini out of a dangerous spot deep in their own territory. That was his longest run of the game and seemed to put the UW defense on its heels.
Third-quarter goat: That looked like a fumble from the press box and on the replay. The officiating crew reviewed the call on the field but apparently didn't see evidence to overturn the call. Would've been a big play for the Illini, who recovered the non-fumble.
What we're thinking: Illinois needs one big play, big forced turnover, big punt return, big something to reverse the negative momentum of the season in this fourth quarter. Wisconsin is utterly beatable.
By the numbers
46 — Yard field goal for Wisconsin to move ahead 10-7
2 — Turnovers on one play, which ultimately gave Illinois a first down
4-5-1 — The Illini's record in Madison since 1988
20 — Rushing yards for preseason Heisman candidate Montee Ball
1 — Pass attempt from Miles Osei, on an end-around piece of trickeration
Note: Terry Hawthorne gave the thumbs up sign as he was placed onto a stretcher and into an ambulance. More good news: Hawthorne was alert and moving before he was taken to the hospital for precautionary tests.
Back at the horn.
HQ Live Report — Wisconsin 7, Illinois 7 — Halftime
Second-quarter star: Steve Hull. His second career interception led to the first score of the game, a 5-yard touchdown run by Nathan Scheelhaase. As usual, Hull was one of the more animated players in pregame warmups and gave the Illini an emotional lift with the INT.
Second-quarter goat: Wisconsin's discipline. An illegal block nullified an outstanding punt return that would've started a Badgers' drive inside Illini territory. That was their fourth penalty. Honorable mention goes to the Illini's decision to not burn a timeout when UW was about to punt.
What we're thinking: Felt good about the Illini's chances today. But stopped short of predicting an Illini win and went with Wisconsin by 7. Considering Wisconsin's inept offense, this one is there for the taking and the Illini are playing well enough to steal a road game.
By the numbers
2 — Plays is all Illinois needed to reach the endzone after Hull's interception
3 — First downs is all Wisconsin could muster through the first 20 minutes of the game
1 — UW student removed from the stadium by a security guard for reasons unknown
2 — Consecutive passes batted down by super-end Michael Buchanan
1 — High-five offered by Nathan Scheelhaase to the back judge  after scoring his TD
136.4 — Passer rating for Scheelhaase with 6:56 left in the second quarter
105.8 — Passer rating for Scheelhaase after an INT in Wisconsin territory
62 — Yards on a scoring pass from Joel Stave to James White; Illinois burned on a blitz
0 — Halftime interviews with ESPN sideline reporter Maria Taylor, who was unable to stop Tim Beckman for a chat on camera
Back in a few.
HQ Live Report — Wisconsin 0, Illinois 0 — End of first quarter
First-quarter star: Madison on gameday. Bars were packed and street vendors busy on the walk to Camp Randall. Even with a 3-2 start to the season, there's a buzz around the city on gameday. That was evident from State Street to Regent.
First-quarter goat: Offense. Despite the Illini's confusing defensive numbers, this figured to be a low-scoring game. The teams entered today's game with the 11th- and 12th-ranked rushing games in the Big Ten. The scoreless scoreboard reflects a tempo Bo Ryan would approve of.
What we're thinking: Indiana isn't the gimme that many predicted. For the second straight week, the Hoosiers were competitive against a superior roster. The result was still a loss — 31-27 to Michigan State — but the Illini's Homecoming guest Oct. 27 will be a challenge.
By the numbers
3 — Jersey number of Wisconsin punt returner Kenzel Doe, who might be susceptible to a fumble after a big hit on the first punt
45 — Jersey number of Jonathan Brown, who, according to coaches, is ailing from an ankle injury and didn't play in the first series
104 — Luxury suites, at least by our count, on the other side of Camp Randall. All of them appear to be occupied.
19 — Preseason ranking of Bo Ryan's Badgers in The News-Gazette's Top 25  poll
27 — of October is when super-recruit JaQuan Lyle is scheduled to visit John Groce's basketball program
Back in a few.
Illinois at Wisconsin — Kickoff
The Illinois captains today are: Supo Sanni, Donovonn Young, Justin Staples and Michael Buchanan.
Wisconsin won the toss and deferred. Illinois will receive heading north.
Game-time temperature in Madison is 46 degrees (38 wind chill) with the wind out of the NW at 15 mph.
Here are some predictions from the folks who cover the Illini:
Herb Gould, a Wisconsin grad from the Chicago Sun-Times, picked his alma mater 42-13.
John Supinie from GateHouse News Services says 32-10 Badgers
Colleen Kane from the Chicago Tribune picked ‘Sconnie 31-14
Paul Klee says 20-13, Wisconsin. Klee also notes that Illinois will play well today.
I went with 31-10 Badgers.
Best wishes to the Decatur Herald and Review’s Mark Tupper who is home sick.
Also want to say hi to our Bob Asmussen.
Klee will take over. He’ll be back with an update at the end of each quarter.
Illinois at Wisconsin — 15 minutes before kickoff
The Wisconsin student section is filling in. Those folks know how to have a good time.
I’m really looking forward to the end of the third quarter when they “Jump Around”.
Hugh Thornton is taking reps with the second-team offense during warm-ups. He might play today, but likely won’t start.
Your starting offensive line: Cvijanovic, Heitz, Feldmeyer, Karas, Pocic.
No surprise, Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball got the loudest ovation from the late-arriving crowd during the announcement of the starting lineups.
We’ll be back with the reset at kickoff, and predictions.
Illinois at Wisconsin — 45 minutes before kickoff
President Obama spoke on the UW campus earlier this week. What did the president have to say? Don’t ask Bret Bielema. The football coach didn’t even know the POTUS was on campus .
President Obama did spend a little bit of time with the Badgers’ men’s basketball team during his visit to Madison.
Klee just saw five guys do back flips in unison on the field a minute ago. Wisconsin doesn’t have a men’s gymnastics team and they don’t appear to be cheerleaders, so we have no idea what that was all about. On a related note that means absolutely nothing to today’s game, Ashante Williams told me he can do a back flip .
The entire Illinois team is dressed and on the field now. Darius Millines and Hugh Thornton are out there with his teammates.
Supo Sanni, Donovonn Young, Michael Buchanan and Justin Staples are leading the Illini stretch. For you South Siders, that’s two Homewood-Flossmoor Vikings (Sanni, Buchanan) leading the team.
Just saw former UW coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez on the field passing out man hugs. There’s a statue of the legendary coach outside Camp Randall.
We’ll be back. Until then, read Jim Rossow's Big Ten football report .
Illinois at Wisconsin — 60 minutes before kickoff
Spoke with longtime Wisconsin beat writer Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal this week. He tells me this isn’t a great Wisconsin team, among other things. Here’s that conversation .
On the field today, you’ll see two of the more disappointing teams in the Big Ten. Wisconsin, which ranks last in the league in rushing, could be considered a disappointment on a national level. I wrote about the Big Ten’s disappointments and the national disappointments in today’s paper. Here they are .
By the way, Michigan State is being handled by Indiana midway through the third quarter in Bloomington.
There’s an amazing sound system here at Camp Randall. They’re playing “Call Me Maybe”. Don’t pretend you don’t love that song.
The Illinois basketball coaches are hosting a coaching clinic in Chicago today, according to Klee. It was an excellent reception from the coaches. John Groce’s ability to build a relationship with the coaches up there has been instrumental in recruiting.
Figured you guys could use some positive Illini news today.
Read about the latest commitment here .
Illinois at Wisconsin — 90 minutes before kickoff
Greetings from Camp Randall Stadium. Marcus Jackson here alongside Paul Klee for today’s Big Ten matchup between the Illini and Badgers.
We’ve got football weather here in Madison, as the temperature reads about 43 degrees right now with a wind chill of 38. It seems way too early to be factoring in wind chills, but, here we are.
The Illini had about a 15-minute walkthrough here last night. I was there. Tim Beckman talked about the atmosphere at Camp Randall, how proud he is of the way his team practiced this week and the two guest speakers who addressed the team last night. Read about that here .
This place gets real packed on football weekends. Dinner last night at any restaurant required at least a one-hour wait.
Every bar from here to the Kohl Center is slammed. How do I know? Because I made the 1-mile trek from our parking spot at the hoops arena to here.
The Illini specialists are on the field now. Illinois, I’m told, will be wearing white pants, white tops and orange helmets today.
We’ll be back with updates in a few. Until then, read my conversation with the very interesting Supo Sanni here .