The fifth-year senior gets the nod for his first career start after competing with Maryland transfer Danny O'Brien last week in practice to see who would replace the injured Joel Stave. Head coach Bret Bielema said he knew which quarterback would start on Monday, and he informed the team on Tuesday. Bielema does not plan to announce a starter before Saturday, and quarterbacks have been off limits to the media this week.
It's no real surprise that Phillips will start since O'Brien was benched as the starter earlier this season for a lack of production and poor ball security. O'Brien came into the Michigan State game two weeks ago after Stave suffered a broken collarbone and was unable to get much of anything going with the offense as the Badgers lost in overtime.
Phillips hasn't played much since his freshman year as he has dealt with three torn ACLs that kept him out of action in 2010 and 2011. Phillips is known as a good runner for a quarterback, though he does not have the same mobility he once had before all the injuries. He will have to prove that he can make deep throws this week, as Wisconsin's offense is heavily based on using play-action to set up open receivers down the field.
It's also a critical game for the Badgers, who would fall into a tie in the Leaders Division standings with Indiana with a loss in Bloomington. That would mean Wisconsin would need some help from the Hoosiers to avoid losing out in a tiebreaker situation for the right to represent the division in the Big Ten title game. The pressure is on Phillips to perform.