Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Illinois vs. Wisconsin

Since Noce and alot of people are drinking the orange Illini Kool-aid, let's take a look at the match-ups. Since I'm a Southern Illinois alumnus, I will call it as I see it instead pouring even more Kool-aid. We'll start first on the offensive side of the ball.

Both Illinois and Wisconsin are good rushing teams as they rank 6th and 22nd respectively in the nation. P.J. Hill and Rashard Mendenhall are 2nd and 3rd in the Big Ten. However, the big difference comes in the passing game. While Illinois and Wisconsin are not big passing teams, (109th/79th) Tyler Donovan is much more efficient then Juice Williams. Juice is dead last in the Big Ten in this category. However, it helps to have Arrelious Benn and sure-handed Kyle Hudson to have on his side. On paper, both teams are pretty much dead even in total offense(Ill:48th/Wis:50) but in reality I have to give the edge to Wisconsin. I would be more likely to trust Donovan then Williams to make a key 3rd down pass (Wis 8th in nation for third down conversation).


On the defensive side of the ball, Illinois has been much better then Wisconsin in nearly every statisical categoy. Both teams have solid linebackers in J Leman and Johnathan Casillas. Outside of their first game against Missouri, the Illini defense has only allowed scores of 0, 20, 14, and 20, granted the shutout was against 1-AA Western Illinois. Wisconsin has allowed more then 30 twice, and that includes the Citadel. With that in mind, I think Illinois will have the edge in this category.


On the final side which deals with the intangibles, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema has been impressive having lost only one game in his second year, while Ron Zook has done one hell of a job recruiting and turning the program around. Both Kickers have made 5 field goals on the season, so I doubt there's much difference there. Both teams are on the negative side for turnover ratio.


Final Analysis: Illinois owned a 24-10 halftime lead last year at Camp Randall before Wisconsin rallied back with 20 points to win by 6, and the Illini are better much this season then the team the Badgers faced then. Factor in the home turf, and that should lead to an Illinois victory. I would not be surprised if this game came down to a final drive. The only question I have is if it's Illinois, I don't think they could pull it off. Yes, Juice is a scrambler, but he has a penchant for making bad decisions on the run. For Illini fans, you better hope it comes down to the Illinois D saving the day.


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