Badgers Refuse To Look Past Faltering Illini

Less than a month after a pair of losses derailed their national title plans, No. 15 Wisconsin is in line for a nice consolation prize.

“The only reason we’re in this conversation is that we’ve been able to focus on the now the last two weeks,” said coach Bret Bielema. “The bottom line is if we don’t go and take care of business this weekend against Illinois, then it’s all for naught.”

The Badgers (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten) have to win two games to make it to the first Big Ten title game, and the team will earn a trip to the Rose Bowl if they can win a third game.

“Things happen for a reason and we have a lot of talent on this football team,” said quarterback Russell Wilson. “It’s a great conference to play in in the Big Ten and things happen. We’re in a great situation, but we have to take care of that situation.”

This week’s comes on the road against Illinois, a team that’s lost four in a row and after a week of off-field problems could be playing for coach Ron Zook’s job. Starting linebacker Trulon Henry was shot in the hand at a party and is out for the regular season. Two other reserve players were arrested following a fight.

Through its problems, Illinois’ defense has been consistently strong. That defense will have to slow quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Montee Ball to give the Illini a shot.

For the Badgers they will look to get to .500 on the road in the Big Ten. With back-to-back losses at Michigan State and Ohio State, the Badgers rolled over Minnesota last week and look to keep that streak alive.

“I think any time you’re able to face adversity, I think you’ve got to learn from it or it’ll come back to bite you again,” said fullback Bradie Ewing. “I think this team’s done that, and I think that’s shown the last couple games and we’re using that to prepare for Illinois as well.”

Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2.