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Illini begin critical Big Ten stretch

The Illinois football team is entering a critical stretch of the season. Coming off their second bye week of the year, Illinois will finish the season with seven straight Big Ten games without a week off.
CHAMPAIGN -- The Illinois football team is entering a critical stretch of the season.  Coming off their second bye week of the year, Illinois will finish the season with seven straight Big Ten games without a week off.

That begins this weekend when Wisconsin comes to town.  It will be the second game in a row that Illinois will play a team that was in last year's Big Ten Championship Game.  Head coach Tim Beckman knows it, and he says his team will have to come ready to play from here on out.

"We've been talking about it quite a bit because these are the seven games that are the crucial games to being a champion in the Big Ten," said Beckman.  "These seven weeks are weeks that separate who will be there at the end.  We have to play Wisconsin, who was also in the championship game in 2012.  We're going to have to play good to be victorious."

Saturday's game against Wisconsin will be tough.  The Badgers, in typical Wisconsin fashion, lead the Big Ten in rushing at nearly 300 yards per game.  It will be a real smash-mouth test for the defensive front and linebackers, who says this is just the beginning of what they'll face the rest of the way.

"It's the Big Ten, man," said linebacker Jonathan Brown.  "Wisconsin: they line up, it's no secret what they're going to do.  They're going to try to come downhill at you.  As a linebacker we like those types of games because there's no trickery.  It's mano-a-mano.  Go make the play.  That's what we like doing."

Illinois and Wisconsin kick off Saturday night at 7:00 pm (BTN).
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