No. 25 Wisconsin 56, Illinois 32 — FINAL
CHAMPAIGN — Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon ran for 142 yards and teammate James White added 98 yards on the ground in leading the visiting Badgers to an easy win in front of 47, 367 at a chilly Memorial Stadium.
Gordon scored on runs of 26, 1 and 13 yards, while White scored on runs of 2, 3 and 1 to power the 25th-ranked Badgers (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten).
Quarterback Joel Stave threw for 189 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Illinois (3-3, 0-2) got 249 passing yards from quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. Scheelhaase completed 20 of 27 passes and he rushed for 18 yards and a score.
Josh Ferguson led the rushing attack with 25 yards and a score.
True freshman quarterback Aaron Bailey threw the first touchdown pass of his career, a 1-yard toss to tight end Matt LaCosse.
Backup quarterback Reilly O'Toole threw a late touchdown pass to Spencer Harris.
Illinois, which has lost 16 straight Big Ten games, hosts Michigan State next week for homecoming.
More later on HQ.
No. 25 Wisconsin 42, Illinois 17 — End third quarter
Illinois still hasn't done anything cool. Wisconsin has extended the lead further and the Badgers band is having a heck of a fun time down in the south end zone.
They didn't play "Jump Around" for them here, but they played "Apache" by the Sugar Hill Gang and they appreciated that and danced to it.
Wisconsin stopped Aaron Bailey at the 1 foot line on 4th down and they're in the process of trying to run out the clock. I'm in the process of trying to beat the clock, so I'll be back with a final. Unless Illinois ties it up or something. Which means I'll be back at the end of the game.
No. 25 Wisconsin 35, Illinois 17 — 8:05 third quarter
This one's getting out of hand again. Wisconsin matched down the field with little resistance on the opening drive of the half and scored a touchdown to extend their lead to at least three scores. Illinois got the ball back and didn't do a thing.
I'm going to get to work on stuff for tomorrow's paper while the Wisconsin band plays the heck out of "On, Wisconsin." If Illinois does something of note, I'll be back to tell you all about it.
No. 25 Wisconsin 28, Illinois 17 — Halftime
Second-quarter star: Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois. The fifth-year senior quarterback delivered a couple of deep balls that would have made Jeff George proud. He hit Steve Hull with a 51-yarder and then dropped a 38-yard dime on Ryan Lankford to set up freshman Aaron Bailey’s first career touchdown pass to Matt LaCosse in the final minute of the half.
Second-quarter goat: Andy Ludwig, Wisconsin. The offensive coordinator has a simple job: Give the ball to Melvin Gordon and let the rest take care of itself. He tried to get cute throwing the forward pass. Illinois got stops and now the Illini are kind of back in the game. This one should have ben put away a long time ago.
What we’re thinking: Who knew Aaron Bailey could throw the ball… Nathan Scheelhaase is dropping dimes from long range like Jimmy Garoppolo… I wonder what Tim Beckman and J Leman were talking about walking off the field for halftime… The Blackhawks are all over the Maple Leafs at the United Center. That’s why Gene Honda isn’t here.
No. 25 Wisconsin 21, Illinois 10 — 6:38 second quarter
Signs of life here at Memorial Stadium as Illinois has reached the end zone. The big play was a 51-yard pass from Nathan Scheelhaase to his good friend Steve Hull. That got the Illini down to the 6 and Josh Ferguson cleaned it up from the 1 to get the home team back in the game.
This Memorial Stadium crowd is a good one tonight. Give them something to yell about and they will.
Word is John Groce is down on the field somewhere. He spoke with J Leman on BTN.
Nnanna Egwu tweeted there are too many Wisconsin fans in town. I saw a bunch of them on the town last night.
No. 25 Wisconsin 21, Illinois 3 — 10:45 second quarter
Hey, look at that, the Illini are on the board. Taylor Zalewski’s 31-yard field goal ensured there would not be a shutout tonight. The Illinois folks are going to have plenty of leftover fireworks for tonight’s postgame display.
Wisconsin just missed a huge play. Jared Abbrederis got behind everybody, but Joel Stave underthrew him. Would have been a 75-yard touchdown.
Wisconsin superstar linebacker Chris Borland is out right now with a right leg injury and his return is questionable. That’s big for the Illini because that dude is good. Like, real good.
No. 25 Wisconsin 21, Illinois 0 — End of first quarter
First-quarter star: Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin. The workhorse back rumbled for 70 yards in the first 15 minutes, including a 28-yard run that set up the game’s first score before reaching the end zone himself later on. He might end up with 200 before today’s over.
First-quarter goat: Nathan Scheelhaase. The Illinois quarterback fumbled deep in his own territory and nearly did the same thing on the next drive, but recovered his miscue. He wasn’t sharp at Nebraska and he remains off early on even after the week off the regroup. He’s got them moving now, though. A couple of nice runs and a pass to Steve Hull has Illinois at the 27 entering the second quarter. They need points now.
What we’re thinking: Do they have to play all four quarters? College football should have some sort of mercy rule… Those orange uniforms do look pretty cool… Good on you Illinois fans for turning out. You all probably knew this would be the result, but you showed up anyway. I wonder how cold it is out there. It feels good up here… V’Angelo Bentley hasn’t been back in and true freshman Dillan Cazley has been getting reps at corner.
No. 25 Wisconsin 21, Illinois 0 — 5:03 first quarter
This one’s getting out of hand real early. Wisconsin went 62 yards in six plays in just over three minutes to make it 14-0 and then a Nathan Scheelhaase turnover inside the Illinois 10 set the Badgers up for a short score and they are now in command here in front of a sizable, but disappointed crowd. Looks like that Big Ten losing streak will extend into next weekend’s homecoming date with Michigan State.
How’s the baseball game going?
No. 25 Wisconsin 7, Illinois 0 — 10:33 first quarter
Uh, oh. This could be a long night if this keeps up. Wisconsin ran all over the Illini on its first possession of the game. The highlight being Melvin Gordon’s 28-yard run. Jared Abbrederis is healthy and playing. He’s got two grabs for 23 yards. This isn’t a winning formula for Illinois. Ted Karras was called for an illegal block, wiping out a huge catch and run for Josh Ferguson. Also not part of the winning scouting report.
V’Angelo Bentley is sidelined, so Martize Barr is returning kicks. That’s a huge blow on defense, too, for the Illini.
No. 25 Wisconsin (4-2, 2-1) at Illinois (3-2, 0-1) — Kickoff (BTN)
Good evening, folks, Marcus Jackson here and I’ll be with you throughout the final whistle. Before we get started, let me tell you updates will be a little less frequent tonight. We’re working under a tight deadline and we want to make sure you get some excellent coverage in tomorrow’s newspaper. If you’re unfamiliar, that that big grouping of gray pages with black ink, sometimes photos, that tells you all the great stuff that happened the day before. Ask your grandparents.
The Illinois captains were Steve Hull, Simon Cvijanovic, Miles Osei and Jonathan Brown. The Illini won the toss and elected to receive. Wisconsin will defend the south end zone.
The game time temperature is 48 degrees, winds out of the southwest at 8 mph.
Very good crowd here, so far. The Orange-Out that Tim Beckman called for didn’t materialize. It was a great idea, but with it being so cold, it’s tough for folks to sport orange. Unless there are 60,000 hunters out there with coats to donate. Still, though, from what I can see of the East stands, it’s about 90 percent full in the lower section. The upper reaches are filling in, too.
Wisconsin brought its band, but they’re not seated in the stands. They’re on the field beyond the south end zone. I wonder if they’re play “Jump Around” at the start of the fourth quarter.
I like Wisconsin, I hear it’s a great school and they’re football and basketball teams are always relevant. But there’s just something about a school without a baseball program I can’t respect.
I caught up with student radio color analyst Mike Veldhuis and the Wisconsin junior says the Badgers respect the Illini.
“They’re definitely not taking them for granted. The Illinois football team, especially this year, is much improved over what they were last year. Coming into Memorial Stadium is certainly going to be a challenge,” Veldhuis said. “They’re optimistic that they’re going to be able to shut down Nathan Scheelhaase, but we’ll just have to see how it goes.”
15 minutes until kickoff
Just got back to the press box from the north end zone. A boatload of recruits are on hand tonight. Plenty of Class of 2014 commits. Saw Nick Allegretti, Tito Odenigbo, Austin Roberts and Chayce Crouch. The big recruit at tonight's game, who is on an official visit, is St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) running back Madre London, a Class of 2014 recruit.
The reaction from most of the recruits I talked to is positive regarding Illinois football. They like what Illinois is showing on offense, they are enjoying the atmosphere here so far (even though Memorial Stadium is not even half full at the moment).
Illinois is out on the field going through warmups at the moment. Josh Ferguson just went through about six spin moves and two jukes on a simple run off tackle. Expect to see him attempt that several times here tonight.
Illinois' defense should get a boost tonight from the return of defensive tackle Teko Powell, who has missed the last few games. Illinois will need a collective group effort on defense tonight if it has any hope of stopping the Badgers.
Here's some predictions from the esteemed media that are covering tonight's game. I had Wisconsin 35-21.
Marcus Jackson, The News-Gazette, Wisconsin 38, Illinois 24
Mark Tupper, Decatur Herald & Review, Wisconsin 41, Illinois 20
Fletcher Page, Scout.com, Wisconsin 41, Illinois 21
Steve Greenberg, Chicago Sun-Times, Wisconsin 42, Illinois 24
Jeremy Werner, ESPN C-U, Wisconsin 38, Illinois 21
Tom Dienhart, BTN, Wisconsin 45, Illinois 24
Jamall Collier, Gatehouse Media, Wisconsin 38, Illinois 21
Chris Hine, Chicago Tribune, Wisconsin 41, Illinois 24
Marcus Jackson will take you through the rest of the game. Enjoy.
60 minutes until kickoff
Orange and red. That's what you'll see tonight. A lot of it. Wisconsin is going with a red helmet that has the traditional W in white. At first glance, it looks like Indiana. That was the general consensus in the press box.
Chuck Long is calling his second Illinois game this season. He was here in Champaign three weeks ago for the shellacking Illinois put on Miami (Ohio), who lost to a woeful Akron team today by the way.
"Right now all of Illinois' playmakers are on offense and not on defense," Long said. "It's going to take some time defensively to shore that up, and that's when you really start getting to bowl games. It's a big recruiting year for them to get some guys in here with talent and some speed, especially on the defensive side."
Whether Illinois will have improved its tackling since letting Nebraska ran rampant and pass successfully on nearly every play two weeks ago is the big question of the night. Here are my four keys to the game.
One Illinois player on offense besides Nathan Scheelhaase who has stood out this year is Josh Ferguson.
"He's the real deal," Long said. "Bill Cubit's done a nice job of working him around in formations to get him the ball."
So much so that Ferguson came into today as the only running back in the FBS to lead his team in both receiving (344) and rushing (310) yards. He'll need to have the same type of output he achieved against Nebraska for Illinois to come away with a win. For more on Ferguson — who teammates say is one of the best-dressed players on this Illinois team — click here.
Programming note. Might not be another update in a half hour. With our tight deadline tonight, I'm heading down to the field to talk to some recruits in a bit so we can have plenty of coverage in Sunday's News-Gazette. Marcus Jackson has made his arrival as well but has his share of interviews to conduct as well.
90 minutes until kickoff
Illinois specialists got out on the field around 5:05. That was the first glimpse of the orange pants Illinois will unveil for the first time this year.
The last time Illinois went with the look they're going with tonight came during the 2004 season in a 38-30 home loss to Purdue. We'll see if the same combination garners Illinois a different result. If it does, a BCS bowl trip might be in the cards for Illinois. Yes, I just typed that. But the last two times Illinois beat the Badgers in 2007 and 2001, a trip to the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, respectively, transpired. Don't go booking flights to Pasadena or New Orleans though. Give it a few more games.
Looks like Wisconsin will go with the red pants and white jersey top look. Not sure about what helmets the Badgers will wear yet, as they went with an all-red helmet in their win against Northwestern last Saturday.
For other tidbits, like who the Illinois captains are and who some of the prominent recruits that supposed to be on hand, click here.
Caught up with Chuck Long and J Leman of the BTN within the last half hour. I'll share some thoughts from the two college football veterans in a bit.
Had a chance to chat for a few minutes with Mike Cation, whose voice you'll hear plenty of times this winter working the PA at the State Farm Center. Gene Honda should handle PA duties for tonight's game, but Cation is fine-tuning his ways of pronouncing all the newcomers John Groce's team has. I'm sure we'll have more basketball talk on here once Marcus Jackson jumps aboard and if the game tonight turns into a blowout.
One Class of 2013 recruit who is making his name known is cornerback Jaylen Dunlap. Don't be surprised if the Crete-Monee product finds himself matched up against Jared Abbrederis at some point tonight. Or pinching down to contain Melvin Gordon and James White in stopping the run game. To find out more about Dunlap, a very confident 18-year-old who just turned 18 less than two months ago, click here.
Be back in another half hour.
Two hours until kickoff
Good evening college football fans. Or late afternoon. Whatever you prefer. The sun is setting on Champaign-Urbana as we speak. Matt Daniels here with you from high above Memorial Stadium in the press box. I'll be with you up until kickoff, with Marcus Jackson handling in-game report duties as well tonight.
Wisconsin players were the first ones to arrive on the Memorial Stadium turf, with the Badgers arriving shortly after 4:40 p.m. in red and white warmup suits. Wisconsin broke into various position groups and met before walking into the visiting locker room.
Illinois arrived a little bit later, right around 4:45 p.m., with Tim Beckman first on the field. He let his players, many in stocking hats, have the option today of watching the Illinois-Cincinnati game on their iPads earlier at the Hawthorn Suites in Champaign. Illinois met for a brief prayer at midfield before heading into its locker room.
Fans coming to the game should dress in layers. It's chilly out there right now, and temperatures are supposed to be around 47 degrees at kickoff. Illinois got a good preparation for the colder weather two weeks ago in Lincoln, Neb., where temperatures were right around what they are today. Of course, Illinois fans will have a warmer feeling if Illinois can leave tonight with its first Big Ten win in more than two years.
To get you angry (or happy), here's what our panel of experts thought about the Illinois-Wisconsin game. Don't worry. We often get games wrong. Just look at Central Florida-Louisville. Or Minnesota-Northwestern. Click here to see who's picking the Badgers (guilty) and who's taking Tim Beckman's Illini.
Illinois is dubbing this as an Orange Out. Expect to see some pink sprinkled in as well. Illinois cheerleaders had pink poms out as I was walking into Memorial Stadium. Early props to them for enduring what will be easily the most coldest night of the fall so far in East Central Illinois.
Talking to folks and media types in Madison this week, they all have an uneasy feeling if this game comes down to a field goal. Taylor Zalewski hasn't exactly filled Illinois fans with confidence after he's made 5 of 8 field goal attempts. That's the same number as Kyle French, Wisconsin's kicker until ... this week. Gary Andersen will go with Jack Russell in short and intermediate field goals. But anything longer than 45 yards and it seems Andersen will use all-conference linebacker Chris Borland. Click here to read what isn't a practical joke.
Be back in a half hour with more updates.