The Daily Illini sports staff makes predictions ahead of Illinois football’s Homecoming game against Wisconsin


Lanie Hibel

Freshman Kionte Curry runs with the football against Charlotte on Oct. 2. The Daily Illini Sports Writers share their outcome predictions for Saturday’s game against Wisconsin.

Jackson Janes: Wisconsin 17, Illinois 13

This game will probably be ugly and low-scoring, and I think the Illini will head into the bye week scratching their heads after another strong defensive performance and a lackluster display from the aerial attack.

Wisconsin boasts one of the top run defenses in the nation, which is a major cause for concern for Illinois since its main, and arguably only, source of offense has come on the ground via Josh McCray and Chase Brown. Unless Brandon Peters suddenly turns things around, I think the Badgers will do just enough to contain the talented Illini running back duo and spoil the Homecoming celebrations at Memorial Stadium.

Wes Hollenberg: Wisconsin 17, Illinois 9

I’d take Wisconsin winning 17-9. It will inevitably be difficult for Illinois to get much going offensively with Wisconsin having one of the best defenses in the nation, but Illinois does boast a pair of running backs who have recently put up strong performances in Josh McCray and Chase Brown. Illinois’ defense has been stout in recent weeks as well, so the matchup could easily remain close and come down to the final play. 

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Brandon Peters’ struggles at quarterback have fallen into the background as Illinois has established a legitimate ground game. If this is the week he comes into his own in Bielema’s system, he could be a major difference maker. 

Realistically, it’s hard to imagine Illinois beating an opponent that beat them 45-7 last season, but with a new coaching staff, the Illini can’t be counted out entirely.

Will Payne: Wisconsin 21, Illinois 10

After a solid victory against the Charlotte 49ers last week, Illinois is at home once against to face off against the Wisconsin Badgers. 

One could say this is Illinois’ toughest game of the season so far, despite Wisconsin’s struggles to stack up wins. After back-to-back losses to Notre Dame and Michigan, the Badgers sit at 1-3 overall on the season. 

However, Wisconsin’s record is quite misleading, and if Illinois wants to come out of Memorial Stadium victorious, they’ll need a strong offensive performance. Chase Brown is expected to get the bulk of the carries, and Brandon Peters will suit up once again as QB1 for the Illini. 

You can bank on Illinois having a strong defense against Wisconsin, but I think the Badgers dominate this one from start to finish.

Josh Pietsch: Wisconsin 13, Illinois 3

I think Illinois is really going to struggle on Saturday. Wisconsin has one of the best rush defenses in the country, and almost all the offense we’ve seen thus far out of the Illini has been via the running backs.

Brandon Peters hasn’t gotten going at all this year, and if he doesn’t against the Badgers, I doubt Illinois will be able to score a touchdown. The Wisconsin secondary is the “weak” part of a very strong defense, and I trust the Illini receivers to be able to get open.

Illinois’ defense has been playing well as of late, and the Badgers’ offense has not. Graham Mertz, who is questionable for Saturday, killed the Illini last year and looked like the next Peyton Manning. Since then, he hasn’t been good, and Illinois’ defense has had a great last few weeks. I expect this game to be very low scoring, but for the Illini to struggle so much on offense to the point to which they can only put together a field goal.

Claire O’Brien: Wisconsin 27, Illinois 24

Illinois enters Saturday’s game with a win against Charlotte last weekend. Wisconsin enters the game with a three-game losing streak. Illinois upset Wisconsin, 24-23, the last time the Badgers were in town.

The Badgers give up an average of 25.5 points per game compared to the Illini’s 24.7. I’d say Wisconsin has the edge, but barely. A win for the Badgers will probably be by a field goal or a safety.