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Analyzing the Odds: Can the Illini make it two upsets in a row?



Illinois Football Staff Has an Elite DB Sell
Jan 2, 2023; Tampa, FL, USA; the Illinois Fighting Illini take the field fro the the 2023 ReliaQuest Bowl against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Can the Illini pull off another upset against the Wisconsin Badgers?

The Illinois Fighting Illini played their best game of the season last week against the Maryland Terrapins. Though there are a lot of things from the game that head coach Bret Bielema would like to clean up, Illinois did what needed to be done to have an opportunity to win the game in the fourth quarter. The Illini did not make the critical mistakes, turning the ball over or with drive-crippling penalties. The defense held one of the better offenses in the Big Ten at bay to give the offense a chance to win late.

This week, the Illini return home and play the Wisconsin Badgers (4-2, 2-1). Unlike Illinois, Wisconsin comes off a home loss to rival Iowa. Moreover, quarterback Tanner Mordecai is out for the game after having surgery to repair a broken hand. Can the Illini take advantage of a limited Wisconsin offense?

The Illini are an underdog in this game.

Odds: Wisconsin -2.5

Team Total: o/u 42.5

Money Line: Wisconsin -130, Illinois +110

Wisconsin Team Total: o/u 21.5 

Illinois Team Total: o/u 20.5

The Illini are 1-4 in their last five games against the spread, while Wisconsin is 2-3 in their previous five against the spread. Totals have gone over in one of Illinois’ last four home games. Wisconsin is 1-1 on the road against the spread.

Players to Watch:


Braelon Allen: Without Tanner Mordecai, everyone in the greater Champaign-Urbana metroplex knows who’s getting the ball. If Allen has a big game, it will be a long day for the Illini.

Braedyn Locke: Head coach Luke Fickell wants Phil Longo and the scheme to put Locke in good positions to take care of the football.

Wisconsin’s offensive line: Expect Illinois to play seven to nine defenders within ten yards of the line of scrimmage. When that happens, the Illini have to block well.


Kaden Feagin: Keep feeding this young man. Feagin had career highs in carries and yards against Maryland. With Reggie Love and Josh McCray likely out for the game, Feagin will get the lion’s share of the carries.

Luke Altmyer: Last week was Altmyer’s cleanest game of the season. He needs to make a play again this weekend for the Illini to win. Most importantly, Altmyer needs to keep the ball safe.

Denzel Daxon/TeRah Edwards: Wisconsin loves the inside zone run. The nose tackle combination of Daxon and Edwards has to be stout in the middle. The easiest way to contain the inside run is to get penetration. Both nose guards have to be stout while playing over the center.

Keys to the game:

For the Illini to pull off another upset, the keys are simple. Defensively, the Illini need to stop Braelon Allen and confuse Braedyn Locke. If they can force three-and-outs or turnovers, that’s a win for the defense. The offense needs to continue to play like it did against Maryland. They need to throw the football, force Wisconsin to play two deep safeties and open some lanes for Feagin.

Armchair Illini is a comprehensive site dedicated to covering University of Illinois Athletics owned and operated by Alex Kyi. Dante Pryor has been writing about College Football for years on Saturday Blitz and is now the Lead Football Author for Armchair Illini.