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Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Wisconsin Badgers Free Pick 10/19/13

Wisconsin Badgers (4-2) at Illinois Fighting Illini (3-2)

College Football: Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 8:00 pm (Memorial Stadium)

The Line: Illinois Fighting Illini +10 See the Latest Odds


The Wisconsin Badgers will need to stay focused after their impressive win against the Wildcats this past weekend as the Badgers head to Memorial Stadium to face the Illini.

The Fighting Illini are coming off a disappointing loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers two weekends ago.  The Illini had this past weekend off to recover, but after falling to the Huskers in Lincoln, 39-19, the Illini may have been better off getting right back on the field.  The Illini have the 29th ranked scoring offense in the nation currently, averaging 34.5 points per game, but besides the Huskers, the strength of their schedule can be questioned.  The Illini are getting it done both on the ground and through the air this season as Illinois is averaging a solid five yards per carry on the year, and 7.8 yards per attempt through the air.  Illinois has one of the better quarterbacks in the Big Ten in Nathan Scheelhaase, but Scheelhaase struggled against the Huskers, completing just 13-26 for 135 yards and a pick, while rushing for just 11 yards on nine attempts.  The Illini defense will be in for a tough challenge on Saturday as once again the Badgers have one of the better ground attacks in the Conference.  The Illini are allowing 5.3 yards per carry this season, ranking Illinois 111th in the nation defensively against the run.  In their game against the Huskers, Nebraska rushed for 335 yards and three scores against the Illini, with Abdullah leading the charge with 225 yards and two scores.

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Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Wisconsin Badgers Free Pick 10/19/13

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin Badgers are just 4-2 on the season, but Wisconsin has had one of the tougher schedules in the nation so far, having to play Ohio State and Arizona State on the road, and the Northwestern Wildcats at home.  The Badgers, despite that tough slate, still have one of the more efficient offenses in the nation, as Wisconsin is converting on 46 percent of their third down attempts this season.  Wisconsin is also averaging a very impressive 7.3 yards per play this season, ranking them sixth in the nation in that category.  The Badgers have Joel Stave under center this season, and while Stave is far from perfect, the sophomore quarterback seems to be a good fit for this offense.  Against the Wildcats, Stave completed 17/28 for 241 yards and three scores, while throwing two picks on the day as well.  Don’t be fooled by quarterback play however, as Wisconsin is still very much a run first offense.  The Badgers are keeping the ball on the ground nearly 60 percent of  thee time this season, and still, the Badgers are ranked first in the nation, averaging 6.9 yards per carry.  The ground attack is led by James White, and Melvin Gordon, who combined, rushed for 273 yard and two scores against the Wildcats this past weekend.  Don’t look for the Badgers to try and get too fancy here on Saturday against the Illini as Wisconsin will try and pound the ball down the throat of this suspect Illini defense.

The total has gone under in five of the last seven games for the Badgers.  Wisconsin is just 2-4 against the spread in their last six games against Illinois.  The Illini are just 4-10 against the spread in their last 14 games, and Illinois is just 2-5 overall in their last seven home games against the Badgers.

My play here is going to be on the Badgers.  The Illini do have the advantage of having a week to prepare, while the Badgers have to travel to Memorial Stadium.  It won’t matter here.  The Badgers will try and beat up this defensive front for the Illini, and they should have little trouble in doing so.  Illinois will likely make a few plays with Scheelhaase, but the Badgers and their ground game will sustain drives keeping Illinois off the field and wearing down the Illinois front.  Look for Wisconsin to pull away from Illinois in the second half and cruise.

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