WCIA — Illinois has some extra time this for a big weekend matchup at Wisconsin, after beating Chattanooga 31-0 on Thursday.

The Badgers will be coming off a tough road trip and Saturday night loss to Ohio State. And they have shown they are vulnerable at home, losing to Washington State at Camp Randall Stadium earlier this season.

The Illini defense will need to keep up its current level of play to have a chance Saturday. Defensive end Johnny Newton is having quite the season, leading the country with 8 QB hits and the Big Ten with 22 QB hurries according to Pro Football Focus. That push at the line is helping the unit at every level.

“Just working, working extra, before the games, after practice,” said Newton after the win over the Mocs. “Outside linebackers, they did a really great job today. They created space for me in the inside.”

“Those guys, I see them prepare hard through practice each and every week,” said safety Quan Martin, who grabbed an interception in the win. “I know we got a great group of guys up front, and that helps us out on the back end.”

One of the biggest storylines going into the game in Madison will be the return of Bret Bielema. With the Badgers as head coach from 2006 to 2012, Bielema won 68 games and made a bowl game in all seven seasons. Current Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst was his offensive coordinator for almost all those years, but Bielema is not making Saturday about him.

“I’m very proud of the things I accomplished there, but none of those accomplishments are going to help us next Saturday,” said Bielema. “Nothing that we did there on the field is going to carry forward. I have a lot of great people that I’m close with, that I’m close with to this day. Paul Chryst and I, I consider a very good friend in this profession. [Defensive coordinator Jim] Leonard was the first player I ever visited with at the University of Wisconsin. That’s all part of things pertaining to me, this is about the University of Illinois.”

The game will kickoff at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 1 on Big Ten Network.