Players to Watch: Wisconsin

Players to Watch: Wisconsin

A few names you need to know as Illinois readies for Wisconsin Saturday night.

Defense: Chris Borland

Linebacker Chris Borland comes up big when it matters most. The senior totaled 16 tackles earlier this season in defeat against Ohio State and had 10 stops last week in victory against Northwestern.

Both games were key in figuring out who's who in the Big Ten.

There's never been doubt about Borland.

He's been a playmaker for the Badgers since he stepped foot on campus. Already holding the school record with 13, he needs one forced fumble to tie the FBS career record. His 364 career tackles rank eighth all-time in school history, and he's not far from moving further up the list.

With all the accolades, excuse Illini offensive coordinator Bill Cubit for offering his admiration.

"I love watching him. I hate to say it because we're facing him," Cubit said. "That guy plays college football the way it should be played."

Borland has combined for 26 tackles in two previous games against Illinois.

Offense: Melvin Gordon/James White

Wisconsin always has the running game flowing. Or so it seems.

There's usually a nationally recognized running back bursting through large holes created by imposing offensive lineman. This season is no exception, save for the fact that the Badgers have two players of the feature-back variety for this go-round.

Sophomore Melvin Gordon ranks third in the country and leads the Big Ten in rushing at 145 yards a game.

Incredibly, the 6-1, 207-pound back is averaging 9.23 yards per carry for his career.

"I think he's extremely good," Illinois coach Tim Beckman said. "He was kind of in the shadows of a good back (Montee Ball) last year. He progresses as he goes through games because he is young. He's got great speed and has good size, too."

Accompanying Gordon in the backfield is James White.

The senior is the FBS active career leader with 37 rushing touchdowns. The Badgers are 20-2 in games White has found the end zone, and he currently rushes for 95.7 yards per game. Combined, Gordon and White lead the No. 1 rushing offense in the Big Ten and have each rushed for 100 yards in the same game five times.

"I just think that's something they've been able to do," Beckman said. "That program has been… kind of been built that way."

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