Illinois’ offense will be put to the test against a swarming Wisconsin defense

Nathan Scheelhaase vs. Wisconsin defense

Scheelhaase did not have the biggest passing yard total during last week’s contest against Nebraska with 134 yards, far under his average (259.4). It’s not going to be any easier this weekend when the Badgers come into Memorial Stadium, fresh off a 35-6 blowout victory against a ranked Northwestern team. The Badgers forced seven sacks against the Wildcats, all from different players. Scheelhaase will be put to the test once again against another tough defense as Wisconsin ranks second in the Big Ten in total defense with 267.3 yards allowed per game.

Josh Ferguson vs. Melvin Gordon

One of the premiere matchups during Saturday’s game will come from the running back position as both sophomores are at the top of their games so far this season. Despite a loss to Nebraska, Ferguson once again led the team in rushing yards with 114 yards to go along with an additional 82 yards from his eight catches. Another running back emerging in Madison, Wisc., is Melvin Gordon, who leads the conference in rushing and is third in the nation. He hoisted up 171 yards against a strong Northwestern defense and likely won’t look to stop when traveling to Champaign this weekend. The outcome of this game could likely be determined by one of those players coming up big.

Bill Cubit vs. Dave Aranda

While Bill Cubit’s offense did not come up big during the Nebraska game, he has still changed the culture of the offense that ended 2-10 season last year. But with his team on the brink of reaching the .500 mark, the offense has to show up if it wants to stay in contention for bowl eligibility. Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator Dave Aranda held Northwestern’s offense to just six points, its lowest total since 2006. His defense forced Northwestern into eight three-and-outs to go along with the seven sacks from multiple players on the field. For Illinois to win this week, the offense has to be efficient once again, which won’t be an easy task against a confident defensive-minded Wisconsin team looking to make a statement in the Big Ten.

Torrence can be reached at [email protected] and @TheRealT_S_4.