Wisconsin forced five first-half turnovers, and sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor ran for 159 yards as No. 23 Wisconsin defeated Illinois 49-20 in Big Ten Conference action on a cold and snowy Saturday afternoon in Madison, Wis.
The Badgers overcame some early sluggish play by quarterback Alex Hornibrook by dominating the line of scrimmage. Wisconsin rushed for 357 yards, as three different players scored rushing touchdowns. The Illini managed to keep Taylor, a Heisman Trophy candidate, out of the end zone, but Taiwan Deal tallied two touchdowns, Alec Ingold started the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown and Aron Cruickshank added a 23-yard TD on a jet sweep to give the Badgers a 14-0 lead with 7:01 left in the opening quarter.
Hornibrook completed 13 of 22 passes for 188 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. The Badgers finished with 545 yards of total offense.
Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) scored 28 points in the first half, but following an 18-yard touchdown run by Illinois sophomore Ra’Von Bonner, the Badgers were clinging to a 28-17 lead at the 10:57 mark of the third quarter.
But Deal scampered for a 39-yard touchdown run and Hornibrook’s 19-yard scoring toss to Ingold padded the lead to 42-17 late in the third.
Deal’s 6-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter put the game out of reach.
The Illini (3-4, 1-3) hurt any chance for an upset with sloppy play and their inability to extend drives. Illinois committed five turnovers, including three interceptions, and converted two of 12 third-down attempts. The Illini turned the ball over three times in their first four possessions.
Illinois junior running back Reggie Corbin, who had nine carries for 100 yards, had the play of the game with an 80-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Illinois quarterback M.J. Rivers II was 7-for-13 for 80 yards passing and one interception.
—Field Level Media