CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois was on the front foot for three quarters, leading Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1) by two scores going into the fourth the Badgers rattled off 18 unanswered points to beat the Illini (3-5, 1-4) 25-21.
Momentum changed hands in fourth when lineman Johnny Newton was ejected for targeting after a hit on Badger quarterback Braelon Locke. Wisconsin scored two straight touchdowns after the hit, and took the lead with in the final 30 seconds of the game. Illinois is planning to appeal the targeting call and subsequent suspension for Newton in the first half the Minnesota game.
“I think Johnny actually led with his hands,” Bret Bielema said. “It just turned the game. It’s maddening. Absolutely the most frustrating thing to have one of your best players make a great play, and to have it go 30 yards the other way is just insanity.”
Luke Altmyer had two touchdowns, while only throwing for 100 yards. His tosses were to tight ends Tanner Arkin and Tip Reiman. Atwood native Kaden Feagin also added 97 yards with his first score at Memorial Stadium.
“It’s like watching a movie and they’re losing their grip and they fall to their death,” Reiman said. “It’s the same thing but it’s real life. It’s a little surreal. You don’t expect it, you don’t wait it and to see it happen is unfortunate.”
For all the positive momentum the Illini had through the first three quarters, up 21-7, it quickly disappeared down the stretch. Chunk plays a big reason why, the Badgers had eight plays in the fourth quarter alone of 10 yards or more.
“Just frustrating. Too many big plays on third down I feel like we couldn’t get off the field on third down,” Miles Scott said. “That’s where people talk about the details, like we’ve just got to focus on that one thing.”
Illinois heads into the bye week trying to pick up the pieces, as they now prepare to go on the road to Minnesota after the break. A game time has not been set.