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Wisconsin Badgers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Preview and Prediction

Corey Clement

Corey Clement

The Badgers head into Champaign on Saturday in an attempt to defeat the Fighting Illini for the sixth consecutive time. Wisconsin is fresh off a 24-7 victory over Purdue, holding the Boilermakers to just 192 total yards of offense, only solidifying their nationally-ranked third overall defensive unit.

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The Badgers have won nine of the last 10 meetings against Illinois, the last three ending in blowout fashion with an average win margin of 17 points per contest.

Wisconsin is expected to get starting center Dan Voltz back, and could see the return of starting tailback Corey Clement, who's been sidelined since Week 3 with a sports hernia (groin) injury.

Wisconsin at Illinois

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV: Big Ten Network

Spread: Wisconsin -7

Three Things to watch For

1. Corey Clement

The Badgers' tailback had preseason Heisman expectations, but a sports hernia injury has derailed the junior to this point.

Wisconsin is hopeful Clement can play on Saturday, after suiting up and going through warm ups last week against Purdue before ultimately deciding not to force the issue.

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With Clement, the Badgers expect to open up their offensive firepower, which has been somewhat vanilla so far this season.

2. Wisconsin offensive line

Wisconsin will see the return of starting senior center Dan Voltz, one of the few linemen on the roster with true experience.

Head Coach Gary Andersen said he expects Voltz to play and hopes that the offensive line can start to glue together down the stretch against tough conference opponents. It remains to be seen how much the offensive game plan changes with Voltz re-inserted back into the lineup.

3. Illinois RB Josh Ferguson

Ferguson has rushed for 381 yards so far this season, but sat out last week with a shoulder injury. His status is listed as "very questionable" by interim head coach Bill Cubit on Wednesday when speaking with reporters.

The Fighting Illini are going to need to attack Wisconsin effectively through the air and ground if they want any chance of defeating the Badgers, though unlikely.

Ferguson's presence in the backfield would be a huge plus for the Illini, as they continue to successfully overcome a late preseason fire of their former head coach.

Final Analysis

Wisconsin has been rolling, despite its home hiccup loss to Iowa. Expect the team to be even more efficient with the return of key offensive starters en route to another Big Ten victory on Saturday.

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Prediction: Wisconsin 28, Illinois 13

— Written by Chris Dougherty, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Dougherty also serves as a National Recruiting Analyst for 247Sports.com and has written for other sites, including FanSided.com and Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @warontheweekend.