Memorial Stadium, Champaign,
Kickoff: 12 noon
Quietly, I was rooting for the Nittany Lions to go
undefeated and earn a birth to the national championship game. Thanks to the Penn
State loss to Iowa that scenario is now squashed and the
Buckeyes are firmly back in the race for the Rose Bowl. It won’t be easy and they need some help from
either Indiana or Michigan State
but the dream is still alive and the Bucks have something to play for. Illinois
is experiencing a disappointing season and are struggling to earn a bowl birth
with a 5-5 record. With the Bucks
playing for the Rose Bowl, the Illini playing for any bowl and the fact OSU has
struggled against the Illini over the last two years will make this game one
not to miss.
By Pete Quint
Terrell Pryor showed us some glimpses of why he has been
touted as one of the best quarterback prospects to come out of high school
since Vince Young. The throw across his
body, near the side line, to the endzone for a touchdown was jaw dropping. This kid is special and hopefully the coaches
will let him be special. Beanie Wells
was a beast and knocked out 140 rushing yards while Brian Hartline and Brian
Robiskie both had great days. Lott
Trophy semi-finalist linebacker Britt Miller leads the Illini and Big Ten in
tackles with 110. The Illinois defense has 32 sacks on the season
which puts them sixth in the country. OSU
is in for a long day as the fast, aggressive Illini defense will take advantage
of the slow, plodding offensive line.
Pryor will have to use his legs to avoid the rush and make plays on the
run to win this one.
Illinois out ranks Ohio State
in every offensive category except rushing (only 7 less yards per game) but are
only 5-5 on the season. The Ohio State
defense has a conference best 284.5 yards per game allowed and the seniors are
hungry to redeem themselves from last years loss. Once again athletic quarterback Juice
Williams leads the Illini onto the field.
Williams was nearly unstoppable last season as he threw for 140 yards, 4
touchdowns and ran for 70 yards. This
season Williams is the Big Ten leader in passing yards but is prone to throw interceptions;
14 on the season. Williams is also the
leading rusher (577) on the Illini squad followed by Daniel Dufrene (575) who
scorched the Buckeye defense last year for 106 yards. Arrelious Benn is by far Williams’ favorite
target and the tall sophomore is poised to be the first Illinois receiver to top the 1000 yard mark
since 2002. The defense will have to
contain Juice Williams and not over-pursue.
If they make Williams beat them with his arm he’s bound to throw a few
The Buckeye defense will take care of business, no
doubt. It’s the inconsistent ability of
the offense to score that makes this one worrisome. The coaching staff seems to be corralling Pryor
by only allowing him to throw about 14 passes per game and without the constant
passing threat, defenses are able to load the box and stuff the run; watch the Penn State
game again for proof. We saw last week
just how special Pryor will be; it’s a matter of when the coaches will allow
Terrelle to be Terrelle.
OSU 24 – Illinois 17
Why OSU will win:
Put enough pressure on Williams to force him to make
mistakes. The aggressive Illini defense
will force Pryor to win this game with his athleticism.
Why OSU will lose:
If the OSU defense plays too aggressively they will
over-pursue and get burned by the athleticism of Williams.
Crazy stat of the
-Beanie Wells is 122 yards shy of fifth place overall in
rushing yards at Ohio
State. One more yard will earn him 3,000 in his
-This Saturday’s game will be Jim Tressel’s 100th
as the head coach for The Ohio State University.
Last time they met…
-Juice Williams could not be stopped as the Fighting Illini
handed the Buckeyes their only regular season loss of 2007, 28-21. The Illini victory ended OSU winning streaks
of 28 regular season games and 20 Big Ten conference games.
Quote of the week:
"November decides where you
go, point blank, period. OK, we lost to Penn State
and it's a big deal. Now if we lose to Illinois
that's going to tear our seniors apart and I don't want that to happen. I won't let that happen." - Ohio State
quarterback Terrelle Pryor on the game this Saturday.
Illinois players to watch:
Junior QB #7 Juice Williams
Junior RB #22 Daniel Dufrene
Sophomore WR #9 Arrelious Benn
Senior LB #44 Britt Miller
Junior CB #1 Vontae Davis