UI grade vs. Wisconsin: C minus
Our breakdown of Saturday's loss to Wisconsin:
Player of the Game: Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon
Star running back couldn’t keep up his first-down-per-carry pace, but he got close. And when he sniffs the end zone, he finds a way in. His three early scores did major damage to the Illini defensive ego.
Underrated Joel Stave didn’t have to do much, but still managed to hit 14 of 18 as his team built a commanding lead. Nathan Scheelhaase improved after a rough start. But empty possessions killed any upset chances.
No doubt, the Badgers missed Chris Borland, who got sidelined early with an injury. Wisconsin allowed Illinois to cut into the big lead. Jonatha Brown needs the rest of the guys to show up on a more consistent basis.
Not much for the Badgers to do, other than three punts for a solid average. Illini missed kick returner V’Angelo Bentley, who got knocked out early. Good news for the kicking game as Taylor Zalewski nailed a field goal.
The Illini can’t keep spotting opponents a big early lead or they are never going to end the Big Ten losing streak. You get absolutely no credit for winning the final three quarters. Until they stop keeping score for the entire game. A late Wisconsin touchdown didn’t do much for Illinois’ confidence going into the Michigan State game.