Badgers stomped by Illinois in Bielema’s return to Madison

Badgers Football Generic

MADISON, Wis. — Bret Bielema did a lot of winning at Camp Randall Stadium during his time as Badger head coach, and he got another win on Saturday, this time from the visitors’ sideline.

Wisconsin had no answer for Bielema’s Illinois squad, falling 34-10. The Badger defense that shone in non-conference play, even in the loss to Washington State, has not shown up for Big Ten games. The Illini’s 34 points were the most that they’ve scored in Madison since 2002. Saturday’s win was also Illinois’ first in Madison since 2002.

Illinois was dominant in all facets of the game, but their rushing efforts were especially notable. Chase Brown ran for 129 yards on 25 carries, finding the endzone once. Quarterback Tommy DeVito also scrambled for three touchdowns.

Somehow, DeVito did not tally a single passing touchdown. That didn’t stop him from having a strong performance through the air, completing 18 passes for 167 yards. Two Illinois receivers, Bryan Hightower and Pat Bryant, registered over 50 receiving yards.

For the Badgers, nothing seemed to work. Graham Mertz gave the Camp Randall faithful a spark of hope in the first quarter with a beautiful touchdown pass to Issac Guerrendo, but that hope faded quickly. Mertz tossed two interceptions and completed only 17 of his 32 passes for 206 yards.

The Wisconsin rushing attack found no space to work. The Badgers managed just 2 rushing yards when factoring in Graham Mertz’s five sacks.  By contrast, Illinois’ Chase Brown’s longest run was a 49-yard touchdown dash. Illinois’ second-string running back Reggie Love III had a total of 16 rushing yards.

Both teams were rather undisciplined, with the penalty flag being thrown a total of 18 times. Illinois committed 8 penalties for 75 yards, while the Badgers committed 10 for 78 yards. Neither team found much success on third down either, with Wisconsin converting only 4 of 14 attempts and Illinois finding success on 3 of 13.

The loss moves the Badgers’ record to 2-3, and they sit in sixth place in the Big Ten West. The road doesn’t get any easier for Wisconsin, as the team travels to Evanston next week to take on Northwestern.