The Ohio State Buckeyes are 28 point favorites over Illinois and any other year, I’d probably give them the spread. After both Purdue and Indiana however, I’m not taking anything for granted. At the same time however, the Buckeye defense pretty much erased Penn State quarterback Matt MgGloin’s turnaround season sending him back to the stumbling quarterback of 2011. And although Purdue gave the Buckeyes a serious scare, the big plays came on special teams and when the defense had no choice but to do their job, they did.
So the question becomes, with both Wisconsin and Michigan waiting in the wings, will the Buckeyes step in what should be a complete blow out or will we be forced to suffer through another heart-stopper like the Indiana or Purdue games.
This is Illinois
It’s been a tough year for Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. So far this season he’s gotten little to no protection with the offensive line giving up 30 sacks so far this season. Against Indiana, a team not known for their defensive prowess, he was sacked seven times.
So far this season the Illinois offense has only averaged 9.5 points per game in the Big 10.
Defensively things don’t look much better. The Illini defense is ranked last in the B1G and they’ve given up an average 30.8 points per game. All that and they have yet to face an offense like the one led by Braxton Miller (and yes, I know they lost to Michigan 45-0).
Remember all the early season talk about special teams? Defensively they’ve proved their mettle. When we’re kicking the ball however, not so much. A rash of injuries haven’t helped any but special teams were supposed to be Urban Meyer’s baby. The Buckeyes need to shore up the kicking and stop giving away easy points before we can say they are truly worthy of their 9-0 record.
With a bye next week and two big games to go, it would be easy for the Buckeyes to phone this one in. Considering that they have played to the level of their opponents all season one would think that this is a game that could catch them off guard.
Even if the Buckeyes do decide pull a Purdue, they have the talent and have shown the moxie to pull it together before it get’s too late even though they tend to cut it a little close.
Not only did first year coach Tim Beckman serve as an assistant under Coach Tressel, he also worked with Urban Meyer at Bowling Green before going to Toledo as head coach. He gave the Buckeyes something of a scare last year bringing Toledo to within a touchdown at Ohio Stadium.
Beckman is a graduate of Berea High School and played football at the University of Findlay (my home town) so it’s safe to say he knows his way around Ohio football.
But what about 28 point spread?
It all depends on which defense shows up isn’t it. Then again, maybe it doesn’t. Although I predicted the same thing against Purdue, I fully expect the Ohio State offense to run ragged over the Illini. No, there isn’t any point in running the score nor do I expect Meyer to do so. At the same time, nobody is hiding the Miller for Heisman talk and unfortunately, the four-letter network and others of their ilk put a lot of faith in ridiculous yardage over sub-par opponents.
Twenty-eight points or not, the best thing I could see happening is a total shut down by the Ohio State defense. If the Buckeyes can totally blank the Illinois, I don’t care if they beat the spread or not.