CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois football coach Bret Bielema is prepared to go back to his former stomping grounds, even if the second year Illini coach doesn’t want to talk about the storyline. Bielema has repeatedly downplayed returning to Madison to face his former team for the first time. He wants the focus to be on his team, but also understands it’s what fans and the media will be discussing going in. Bielema spent nine years at Wisconsin, seven as a head coach, leading the Badgers to three straight Rose Bowls before leaving for Arkansas.

“Have I thought about it? Yes,” Bielema said about this weekend’s trip. “We’ll talk to them (his team) about how we’re going to handle the locker room, I know where the hotel is, I know the dynamics. They have a end of the third quarter tradition that is very unique to them, kind of like last year at Iowa when we waved to the children’s hospital. Every place has traditions that you educate your team on, at least I do, that’s part of the fun of playing in this conference.”

Illinois is looking to win at Camp Randall Stadium for the first time since 2002, the Badgers have won eight straight games in the series in Madison and it hasn’t been all that close. The average margin of defeat in those games at Wisconsin is 21.5 points in favor of the home team but the Illini (3-1, 0-1 B1G) of the past haven’t had a defense like this year. Illinois is ranked Top 5 in the country in both scoring and total defense through four games, something coordinator Ryan Walters says he didn’t know when asked during Monday’s weekly press conference.

“As far as rankings and where you stack up stat-wise, we’re just trying to hold our opponents to one less point than our offense is scoring to try and win the game,” Walters said. “That’s the focus. As far as rankings and the stats, they are what they are and they’ll be what they’ll be. We’re just trying to win ball games.”

Wisconsin is tied for 34th in the country in scoring defense, allowing 19 points per game, with Illinois tied for 4th with Georgia giving up just eight per game. Bielema says he expects a slugfest.

“I like the idea of this game,” Bielema said. “If you’re truly a Big Ten fan you’re going to love watching this game.”

Illinois and Wisconsin are set to kickoff Saturday at 11 a.m. on Big Ten Network.