Your weekly round-up of national media and their opinions/predictions for the game this Saturday.
Scout’s Inc. gives the match-up edge to the Buckeyes in all phases of the game except RB. Rashard Mendenhall has over 1300 yards for the season, averaging nearly 7 yards a carry. Seriously, if the guy averages 7 yards how do you ever lose a game? Here’s the final analysis-
Ohio State can’t afford to overlook Illinois with Michigan on the horizon but the chances of that happening are unlikely. After all, the season has been riddled by upsets and there are enough leaders on both sides of the ball to prevent the inexperienced players on the team from getting too caught up in the BCS hype. With that in mind, expect a run defense anchored by ILB Laurinaitis to lead the Buckeyes to another important Big Ten win. Laurinaitis and Co. will slow the potent and dynamic Fighting Illini ground game enough to force QBs Williams and/or McGee to make more plays with their arms than they would most weeks. And Illinois just doesn’t have enough weapons or the consistency at quarterback to consistently convert when this happens. In addition, the chances of Ohio State generating turnovers greatly increase the more the Fighting Illini put the ball in the air. Buckeyes 31, Illini 10
Much more after the jump.
Good ole Bruce Hooley of ESPN had this to say-
The matchup to watch against Ohio State will be out wide, where Illini cornerback Vontae Davis will match up against OSU’s Brian Robiskie. When possession switches, Illinois Rejus Benn against OSU cornerback Malcolm Jenkins will be an equally intriguing battle. Both Davis and Jenkins are semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s best defensive back. If Illinois is to be competitive in Columbus, it must get points out of every drive into OSU territory. That’s where kicker Jason Reda could be huge. He already has three field goals of 50 yards or more this season and has connected four times from 45-50 yards. Reda had 14 points in the win at Minnesota, kicking three field goals and going 5-for-5 on extra points.
CBS Sports and the Accurescore 3000, or whatever that thing is gives Ohio State an 89% chance to beat the Illini, with an average score of 33-14.
Illinois coach Ron Zook? Here’s what he had to say-
“It seems like every year that I’ve been here when we go play (Ohio State), they are No. 1 in the nation. But if you want to see how good you are, then you have to compete against the best, and obviously they are the best team in college football.”
The Big Lead?
Illinois at No. 1 Ohio State: We’d consider an upset if this were at Illinois, but our guess is that there’s a 4% chance of a massive letdown by the Buckeyes. The Illini have exactly zero quality road wins this year, and in fact, lost at Iowa. Yuck. Fire up the Michigan band! OSU 35, Illinois 10.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Buckeyes learned a lesson from last year’s game in Illinois. The message? Don’t overlook the Illini.
In a moment of absolute brilliance, the Columbus Dispatch says the reason the Buckeyes defensive success this year is…wait for it…tackling! Yes, that’s right! They make the bold claim that if we weren’t tackling ball carriers so well they might run further and score more! Brilliant! (Yes, I know the article is trying to say the Buckeyes working hard on tackling form and all that.)
Another piece from the Dispatch says the Buckeyes have landed the #1 ILB recruit for next year. With Sabino and Andrew Sweat coming next year, it looks like the Buckeyes will be just fine when Lauriniatis enters the draft a year early. (You know it’s gonna happen.)
Chris Fowler tells us what the Buckeyes have to do to impress him. It’s not much really.
“Exactly how good are they, when faced with an enormous test? Maybe we’ll find out in the Big House. Maybe we won’t find out until another trip to the BCS title game. Against another team from the SEC. In the Superdome. In a road game. Win that one, and there won’t be a shred of doubt lingering in the mind of any voter. Until then, there will be, at least here.”
Thanks Chris. Good thing we’re not trying to impress you.
So what’s my take on the Illinois game? I think the Buckeyes will win, but Illinois will run the ball with some success. Juice Williams is the wild card to me. If the Buckeyes have a hard time stopping Mendenhall, Williams should be able to rack up misdirection yards, plus taking off from the pocket. We struggled to contain Locker when we played Washington. Yeah, that was week 3 but he ran pretty much at will from the pocket. Hope I’m wrong, but I see this one 31-24, Ohio State on top.