No. 5 Wisconsin, fab frosh Taylor look to run over Illinois
No. 5 Wisconsin (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) at Illinois (2-5, 0-4), Saturday, noon ET (ESPN)
Line: Wisconsin by 27.
Series record: Wisconsin leads 40-36-7.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
The Badgers roll into town unbeaten, stomping toward a Big Ten West title and with College Football Playoff hopes. Illinois is looking for any signs of hope in year two under coach Lovie Smith.
Wisconsin’s running game led by freshman RB Jonathan Taylor vs. Illinois’ very inexperienced defensive line. This could get very ugly. The Illini are playing mostly freshmen and sophomores up front. Some, like defensive end Bobby Roundtree, have shown promise. But Illinois is last in the conference in rushing defense and Taylor is averaging 158 yards per game and 7.8 yards per carry so good luck with that.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Wisconsin: LB Garrett Dooley. The senior leads the Badgers in sacks (5.5) and tackles for loss (8.5).
Illinois: Freshman WR Ricky Smalling has 13 catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns over the last two games. He leads the team with 343 yards receiving on 22 catches, and his 15.6 yards per catch ranks fifth in the Big Ten.
FACTS & FIGURES
Illinois has started more true freshmen than any team in the nation with 14. Baylor is next with 10. Only Georgia Southern with eight has fewer seniors on its roster in FBS than Illinois’ nine ... Wisconsin has won seven straight against the Illini ... The Badgers’ 7-0 start is their best since 2004 ... Wisconsin’s offense is one of four in the country averaging at least 250 yards rushing and 200 yards passing per game ... In three games since taking over as starting QB, sophomore Jeff George Jr. has completed 60-of-106 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns. George is the son of former Illini star and NFL first overall draft pick Jeff George ... The Badgers have allowed just nine touchdowns this season, matching Penn State and Alabama for the second-fewest of any FBS team. Only Washington (eight) has allowed fewer total TDs
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