(10) Ohio State at Illinois

(10) Ohio State at Illinois
Illinois Helmet

(10) Ohio State at Illinois

Memorial Stadium, Champaign, Illinois
Kickoff: 12 noon
TV: ESPN

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

OSU “O”

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.

OSU “D”

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 picks.

Summary

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. 

Prediction:

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 game:

-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 career.

-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 or Michigan, 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

BrutusReport.com
Tags: Buckeyes Football NCAA Ohio State
print





blog comments powered by Disqus

Sponsors


PC Repair. In Minutes.