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The Day After: Illinois comes up short against Wisconsin.



Illinois football

Illinois allowed 18 points in the fourth quarter in a 25-21 loss to Wisconsin.

“I thought we did enough good things to win,” Bielema said. “We were locked in, and we had a good game plan.” The Illini controlled much of the game Saturday afternoon but could not close the deal in their loss to the Wisconsin Badgers. Saturday was a tough loss, but head coach Bret Bielema and the staff have many positives to take from the game.

On a windy day in Champaign, Illinois, took a 21-7 lead into the fourth quarter but could not close the door on the Badgers. A questionable targeting call against defensive lineman Jer’Zhan Newton played a role in the demise of the Illini. “I thought Johnny led with his hands, not with his helmet,” Bielema said. “That call turned into a game-changer. Your best player makes a great play, and you go 30 yards the other way. It’s maddening. It’s insanity.”

Quarterback Luke Altmyer did not have gaudy stats on Saturday. However, the most impressive number he put up was zero. That was the number of turnovers he had against Wisconsin. It was the first game Altmyer has not turned the football over (fumble or interception) this season.

Illinois’ running game came alive.

The Illinois running game came alive Saturday for a season-high 232 yards. Altmyer led the Illini with 100 rushing yards, but freshman Kaden Feagin continues to impress. The Illinois native ran for a career-high 97 yards and a touchdown. Altmyer and Feagin combined for 197 of Illinois’ 232 yards.

One call made a huge difference.

It’s hard to say whether one call made a difference. However, when Newton was ejected for targeting. The Illini were already without the other part of the law firm, Keith Randolph, for the game. Newton’s absence made the defensive line very thin. The defensive line got no penetration, and Wisconsin quarterback Braedyn Locke had time to throw the football.

The Illini defense had enough trouble containing Braelon Allen with Newton in the game. His ejection opened the floodgates. Unfortunately, it was the right call. Newton lowered his head and led with his helmet. Newton knew it when he did it; he showed it after the play.

What’s next for the Illini?

All is not lost for the Illini. They need three of their last four to go bowling, and three winnable games are on the schedule. Indiana, Minnesota, and Northwestern are all winnable games. Iowa can’t throw, so that game is also winnable. They’ll be without Newton for the first half of the Minnesota game. Illinois is off this week with a chance to get healthy before traveling to Minneapolis on November 4th.

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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.