Photo by Flickr user Phil Roeder. Used with creative commons permission.
What could be better than Homecoming win for the Badgers? How about a ruining someone else’s Homecoming game and coming out with a win on the road? That sounds great doesn’t it? Wisconsin is now going into Champaigne, Ill at 5-2 to face a 4-2 Fighting Illini team. I’ll admit that I was a little nervous about this game. Illinois is an improved team compared to previous seasons, and Wisconsin was only favored by 4 going into the match.
First quarter saw the Illini strike first with a 37-yard field goal from kicker Taylor Zalewski. QB Joel Stave took a hard sack early in the game and did not return. This brought I QB Bart Houston to lead the team. Houston was able to connect with WR Robert Wheelright for a 23-yard passing touchdown to put the Badgers ahead 7-3 in the second. Gaglianone was able to make another beautiful kick (every kick Gaglianone makes from here on and out will be called glorious, beautiful, breathtaking, etc.) for a 26-yard field goal to put the Badgers ahead 10-3. Zalewski was able to make a 36-yard field goal and bring the Illini within four making the score 10-6.
Head to the half with Wisconsin still up by 4, but Illini attacked first in the second half with a 36-yard touchdown run by RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn to give the Illini a 13-10 lead. Wisconsin answered back with a 2-yard in the red zone by RB Alec Ingold to give a 17-13 lead to the Badgers. Things are getting heated as Illini is still in the game and Wisconsin not being able to break the game open. Houston was able to connect with WR Alex Erickson in the fourth quarter with a 9-yard touchdown pass in the red zone. Wisconsin now up 24-13 with a little less than 10 minutes left, and the Badgers were able to hold the lead to defeat the Illini at home during the Homecoming game.
Houston, who had not seen playing time since Sept. 26 against Hawaii, came in when the Badgers needed him most to help give the Badgers a win on the road. Houston completed 22 of 33 attempts for 232 and two touchdowns. He threw two interceptions as well, but the defense was able to keep Illini from producing much. Illini QB was Wes Lunt was able to gain 278 yards with 22 of 43 complete passes, Illini’s rushing game struggled. The Badgers were able to hold the Illini to only 57 rushing yards in the entire game. With the win over Illinois, Wisconsin improved to an overall 6-2 record and 3-1 Big Ten record putting them within a game of Iowa for No. 1 spot in the Big Ten West standings. The win also made Wisconsin bowl eligible for the season.