The college football schedule gets a bit more crowded with the start of Big Ten play this weekend. The 14th ranked Wisconsin Badgers kick things off Friday night against Illinois (7 p.m. kickoff) at Camp Randall Stadium.
Highly touted quarterback Graham Mertz makes his first collegiate start for the Badgers. The redshirt freshman from Kansas takes over for Jack Coan, who is out after having foot surgery.
While the Badgers are big favorites, Mertz will be challenged by an Illinois defense that ranked in the top 10 in takeaways last season. The Illini recovered 16 fumbles and intercepted 12 passes last season, which ranked fourth among FBS teams. Three of those 28 takeaways came against the Badgers last season, when the Illini came from behind to upset Wisconsin 24-23 in Champaign.
The Badgers have stressed ball security with Mertz during training camp and need that mentality to translate to the field on gameday. Coan threw just five [Read more…]