Wisconsin State Journal reporter Jason Galloway grades the Wisconsin Badgers’ performance in their 49-20 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
It’s hard to knock UW’s offense too much after putting up 49 points and 545 yards. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook did throw two interceptions that led to 10 Illinois points and the unit failed to capitalize a couple times when starting with good field position, but Jonathan Taylor and Taiwan Deal dominated on the ground with 270 combined rushing yards on 39 carries.
Much in the same way, the high points of the Badgers’ defense canceled out other issues. Creating five first-half turnovers allowed UW to jolt out to a comfortable lead early on. The Badgers struggled at times with the read option for the second straight week and allowed 210 rushing yards.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus
Anthony Lotti dropped the ball before a 13-yard punt in the second quarter, and Rafael Gaglianone missed a chip-shot 27-yard field goal later in the first half. Lotti did also pin Illinois at the 3-yard line on a fourth-quarter punt, and kickoff specialist Zach Hintze’s ability to produce touchbacks through the heavy wind and snow was remarkable.
UW countered a stacked Illinois box with a jet sweep for a 23-yard touchdown early on, and the Badgers managed the first-half snowstorm as well as they could offensively. There were some undisciplined plays on defense, however, and using timeouts to get the ball back at the end of the first half backfired after Hornibrook’s first interception led to three points for Illinois.
The Badgers should be disposing of Illinois easily at Camp Randall, and the final score would indicate a solid performance. There were some shaky moments on both sides of the ball, though, and it’s apparent this team still needs to improve before heading into tough road games at Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue over the next four weeks.