MADISON, Wis. (WCIA) — After falling behind early, Illinois (4-1, 1-1) scored 27 unanswered points on the way to a statement win over Wisconsin (2-3, 0-2) 34-10.
Wisconsin found the endzone on the first drive of the game, as Graham Mertz looked like an Illini killer once again. After being forced to punt, a Kendall Smith interception put the Illini in great field position where Tommy DeVito snuck it in from the 1-yard line to tie the game.
The Badgers kicked a field goal on their ensuing drive to take back the lead, and Illinois once again punted. A great play by Taz Nicholson to intercept an errant Mertz pass once again gave the Illini the momentum. Illinois inched down to the one, where DeVito snuck it in.
Holding the lead into halftime, Bret Bielema’s squad executed a perfect drive out of the locker room where DeVito scored his third rushing touchdown of the game. After forcing a stop, Chase Brown put the game away with a 49-yard run in the third quarter making it six straight games over 100 yards for the nation’s leading rusher.
“We’re a good football team at the end of the day and people shouldn’t be doubting us,” Brown said.
“I think the biggest thing was us getting points off those turnovers,” DeVito said. “Obviously stuff like that, momentum changes the game but to be able to get those in good field position and put points on the board was big.”
Bielema gets the win in his return to Madison, where he won 68 games over seven seasons. It is also the Illini’s first win at Camp Randall Stadium since 2002.
“Listen I loved my time here, it’s a part of my history and it’s literally helped define to get to where I am today,” Bielema said. “I’m proud of what we’ve built at Illinois and what we could show today.”
“What happened last year, just us being able to come out here and win, it hasn’t been done in 20 years so it’s a statement for us to be able to continue to build on that,” linebacker Tarique Barnes said.
Illinois returns home next week as they host Iowa at 6:30 p.m.