Saturday, October 24, 2015

Five players to watch for in Saturday's Wisconsin/Illinois game

                                                   Photo Credit: Damon Warren

The one thing Wisconsin and Illinois have in common happens to be a loss at the hands of undefeated No. 13 Iowa.

Both teams meet at Memorial Stadium Saturday to save face and stay alive in the Big Ten West divisional race.

Here are five players to watch for in the clash between the Badgers and the Fighting Illini:

1) Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt:

After being ravaged by the injury bug for most of last season, Lunt has responded with authority and the numbers show in the first six games this season.

Lunt has a 58.4 completion percentage to go along with nine touchdown passes and two interceptions.

All of Lunt's weapons will not be at his disposal as the No. 1 running back on the Illini depth chart Josh Ferguson is out and to make matters worse, wide receiver Mike Dudek is not expected to return this season.

Lunt will have to rely on freshman running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn to carry the load if the Illini have a chance in pushing past the vaunted Badgers' rush defense.

2) Illinois wide receiver Geronimo Allison:

Fresh off of eight receptions for 148 yards and a touchdown at Iowa on Oct. 10, Geronimo Allison will look to carry the momentum into Saturday's game.

Allison leads the Big Ten in receptions per game with 6.7 and is second in yards per game with 100.2.

In the last three games, Allison has accounted for 26 receptions, to go along with 367 yards and two TD's.

3) Illinois linebacker Mason Monheim:

Senior Mason Monheim has indeed been the heart and soul of the Illini defense with 340 career tackles, which ranks third among active Football Bowl Subdivision players.

At the halfway mark this season, Monheim is third on the Illlini, accounting for 46 tackles and an interception.

4) Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave:

With running back Corey Clement's health woes this season, the Badgers have been forced to rely more on the arm of Joel Stave.

The senior has delivered and then some in 2015 by surpassing totals for completions (147) and passing yards (1,708) from 2014 converting 110 passes for 1,350 yards in 10 games.

In conference play, Stave leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game with 292.7.

5) Wisconsin outside linebacker Joe Schobert:

Consistency sums up Joe Schobert as he ranks second in the Big Ten heading into Saturday's game in all three defensive categories (15.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles).

With one more forced fumble, Schobert will match Chris Borland's single-season record of five set twice (2009 and 2011).

Schobert has played a critical part in Wisconsin's defense holding six of its seven opponents to 25 or less points this season.

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