The 2013 WAY too early Badgers Schedule Breakdown: Illinois

Wisconsin will open the Gary Andersen era 4-1, well, at least according to our WAY too Early schedule breakdown to date, thanks to a narrow win over a very tough Northwestern team. Perhaps the Badgers would rather see Michigan State on their schedule, right? 

O.k., perhaps that's a small stretch, but moving forward we stay with the Land of Lincoln rivalry as Wisconsin makes a trip to Champaign to take on the Illini in Tim Beckman's 2nd year. It's hard to be worse than 2012 for the Illini, who will be bringing in ten early-entrants in their 2013 class in an attempt to correct the situation around Memorial Stadium and do it fast.

So, what is in store for the Badgers when they make the journey south? Let's explore the 2013 Fighting Illini of Illinois.

2012 Record: 2-10, 0-8 B1G 
Head Coach: Tim Beckman, 2-10 - 2nd year at Illinois in 2013
2012 Billingsley Ranking: No. 98
2012 Team Stats:

Scoring Offense 16.7 Scoring Defense 32.1
Rushing Offense 127.8yds - 12TD's Rushing Defense 193.9yds - 28TD's
Passing Offense 168.8yds - 11TD's/14INT's Passing Defense 193.7yds - 21TD's/7INT's

Crazy 2012 Stat: 50-25 - We're talking about double the number of touchdowns that Illinois allowed to their opponents versus what they scored for the entire season. 25TD's for a year as a team? Good lord, one of our running backs nearly 

What 2012 Tells Us About Illinois: There is no way to sugar coat it - 2012 was a season to forget for the Illini as Beckman lost the team early on and things completely spiraled out of control. In the preseason they were looked at as a team capable of contending with Wisconsin for that automatic birth in the Big Ten championship game, boy were we all wrong. 

The good thing is this will be a new team with some new coaches to help Beckman out, but if things don't turn around quickly this could go down as one of the all-time worst coaching hires in Big Ten history. He really needs the young guys to make a big time jump this season if they are even to contend with Indiana for an improved team in 2013 and that's no longer a given with the job Kevin Wilson is doing in Bloomington.

Series History: 36-36-7 tie, Last Meeting: 31-14 Wisconsin Win in 2012

Key Losses: Graham Pocic, Center; Akeem Spence, DT (72 tackles, 7tfl's); Michael Buchanan, DE (57 tackles, 7tfl's, 4.5 sacks); Terry Hawthorne, CB (44 tackles, 4tfl's, 1 sack, 1INT) 

Key Returners: Nathan Scheelhaase, QB (60% comp. rate, 1,361yds, 4TD's/8INT's passing, 33yds, 4TD's rushing);Ryan Lankford, WR (37 rec, 469yds, 5TD's, ); Josh Ferguson, RB (312yds, 4.2avg, 0TD's rushing, 38 rec - led team, 172yds, 1TD); Donnovon Young, RB (571yds, 4.4avg, 3TD's); Jonathan Brown, LB (59 tackles, 9.5tfl's, 2.5 sacks); Mason Monheim, LB (86 tackles, 6tfl's, 1.5 sacks)

WAY Too Early Prediction: Wisconsin 33, Illinois 17 - Wisconsin against Illinois just hasn't been favorable to the Badgers as of late. Just ask Russell Wilson and Co. back in 2011 about their trip to Memorial Stadium, it wasn't pretty despite the win. However, Tim Beckman has to right the ship and fast, but taking a look at what's back versus what's left you've got to like the Badgers chances as the best defensive players from last season are gone in Spence and Buchanan up front. I like the Badgers' matchup up front big time in this game and up against a team that's very young and not that good give me Wisconsin to take this one, moving to 5-1 on the season and more importantly to 2-1 in conference play.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site