Sports

Illinois Stunned Sixth-Ranked Wisconsin In College Football’s Upset Of The Year

Wisconsin entered Saturday’s game against Illinois flying high. The sixth-ranked Badgers sat at 6-0, and all eyes were on next week’s showdown with Ohio State in Columbus. Unfortunately for those with their eyes on a matchup between undefeated Big Ten foes, Wisconsin’s trip to Champaign ended with the biggest upset we’ve seen in college football this year.

The Illini, which entered the game 2-4 and 0-3 in conference play, pulled a rabbit out of their hat, taking down the Badgers, 24-23. While Illinois kept things close all afternoon — they entered the locker room down 13-7 at the half — the thought of an Illini upset seemed like a stretch, in part because they were gigantic underdogs.

Still, weird things happen in college football, especially when an underdog can keep things close at home. It also helps that the Badgers turned the ball over three times, and each time, Illinois made them pay, scoring 17 points off of those turnovers. One of those came when the Illini scored with just under six minutes remaining — signal caller Brandon Peters found Josh Imatorbhebhe for a touchdown to pull Illinois within two.

The goal for Wisconsin from that point on was to just kill the game, something the Badgers usually do as well as anyone with their burly offensive line and stellar running game, led by Heisman contender Jonathan Taylor. But on a 3rd-and-5, Jack Coan threw an interception to Illinois’ Tony Adams, who set his team up from its own 47.

Wisconsin has a nasty defense, one that has risen to any occasion asked of it this season. The Illini were undeterred, though, and managed to get into field goal range for junior kicker James McCourt, who cooly drilled a kick from 39-yards out.

This, in a cruel twist of fate, marked the first time all year that Wisconsin fell behind in a game. It also, obviously, meant their dreams of finishing the year undefeated came to an end. As for Illinois, this is a gigantic win for a program that has been searching for a signature victory under Lovie Smith. It took a while to get it, but seeing as how this was the payoff, we’ll bet that most Illini fans will say the wait was worth it.

×