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Illini football preview: Ohio State

Ohio State comes to Memorial Stadium to begin Big Ten play on October 2nd. Ohio State, ranked No. 2 in the BCS rankings and Coaches Poll, brings its high octane offense for an 11 a.m. showdown against the Fighting Illini. OSU’s offense begins its Big Ten campaign averaging 240 yards on the ground and 267 through the air, with a four game average of 49 points per game.

Their red zone scoring is a staggering 93%. #2 Terrelle Pryor leads a potent rushing attack which seems to be RB by committee. The aerial assault features pinpoint passing accuracy from Pryor to #8 DeVier Posey and #12 Dane Sanzenbacher. The Fighting Illini defense will need to shut down this rushing attack and prevent Pryor from scrambling if they are to stand a chance. The Illini line backing core must swarm to the ball, and their defensive secondary should tighten their coverage to take away the short passes.

The stingy Ohio State defense is only allowing 71 yards on the ground and 169 yards through the air. Through the first four games, they have allowed just 14 points per game and opponents are only scoring 56% of the time in the red zone. The Illini offense will need to sustain drives throughout the game and keep Pryor and the rest of the OSU offense off the field. The Illini offense will need to play similar to the first quarter of Illinois vs. Missouri game, when the Illini kept control of the ball for almost 12 minutes. The Illinois offense must have a productive rushing attack complemented by an accurate passing game to keep the chains moving. RB #5 Mikel Leshoure must carry the ball at least twenty times for the Illini to succeed. The Fighting Illini football team must play turn over free football, and limit their mental mistakes. No penalties.

Fun Facts about the History of this Ohio State / Illinois match-up:

  • The Ohio State Buckeyes and Illinois Fighting Illini will be meeting for the 97th time since the series began in 1902. Until the series was interrupted in 2003, the two teams had played every year from 1914 to 2002. Illinois is a 17 point underdog.
  • The Illibuck Trophy, a wooden replica of a turtle, is presented to the winner of the Ohio State-Illinois football game. The tradition began with a live turtle in 1925. Illibuck is the second oldest trophy exchanged in the Big Ten, behind the Little Brown Jug between Minnesota and Michigan.

Prep Picks week 6: Tuscola Warriors, Villa Grove Blue Devils, GCMS Falcons, Westville Tigers, AOP Comets, South Piatt Wildcats, STM Sabers, Centennial Chargers, Central Maroons.


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