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November 2, 2012

Staff Predictions: Illinois

Untitled Document
Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

The Buckeyes are a week away from the much needed bye week but if you talk to many fans they are already chalking this game up as nothing more than a bye week.

But the players and the staff are not taking that view and know that the Illini are looking for a signature win to salvage a season that has been nothing short of forgettable.

How will Braxton Miller fare in this game? Can the Ohio State defense keep an offense that has not put up more than 24 points against a Division I (FBS) team? Is there a chance that the Illini can shock the Buckeyes once again at Ohio Stadium?

We take a look at how our staff sees things playing out in our Staff Predictions.


Kevin Noon - Publisher
This 'should' be a name the score kind of game for the Buckeyes and very well could be. But this season has shown us that Ohio State has not figured out how to play when it is a multiple touchdown favorite and what leads us to believe that things will be different this time around. The Illini may be in worse shape than the Purdue and Indiana teams that Ohio State let hang around and ultimately Illinois' will to lose may be stronger than Ohio State's will to 'lose focus'. The biggest question I have for this one however will be how long Braxton Miller remains in the game. Do the Buckeyes look to pull him early if the game is in hand to protect his health or are we going to see Urban Meyer try and promote Miller's Heisman candidacy and leave him in and push the offense to put up big stats? At any rate, the Buckeyes will win. Ohio State 35 Illinois 14

Ben Axelrod - Lead Team Writer
If you haven't figured out this year's Ohio State team yet, let me help you out: it plays up or down to the level of its competition. That's not an opinion, it's a fact. Barring the season-opening blowout of Miami (OH), the Buckeyes have played the best against their two toughest opponents of the season (Nebraska and Penn State), while they've struggled against lesser teams like UAB, Indiana, and Purdue. I expect that trend to continue against a 2-6 Illini team that's all sorts of bad. You can pick the Buckeyes to win by more than two scores if you'd like to, but if you do, I'm not going to be convinced that you've been paying attention this season. Ohio State 31 Illinois 23

Marc Givler - Recruiting Analyst
On paper, this looks like a classic trap game with the Buckeyes coming off a big road win against Penn State and looking ahead to a much needed bye week. Still, the Illini are struggling badly right now and new head coach Tim Beckman simply hasn't had time yet to recruit the caliber of player he will need to win a road contest in Columbus. Ohio State 45 Illinois 21

Jeremy Birmingham - Team Writer
The Buckeyes head back home to take on the pesky Illini. Tim Beckman, the former Urban Meyer assistant who nearly upset the Buckeyes while at Toledo last year, will bring in a floundering football team that has yet to win a conference game. While the Fighting Illini have won an astounding 7 of their last 11 games played at Ohio Stadium, with their last win coming against the undefeated and top-ranked Buckeyes in 2007. Sadly for the Illini, the only "Juice" in the stadium this week belongs to Ohio State and Braxton Miller and the Buckeye defense, fresh off their best performance of the year. Ohio State fans have waited all year for a 3:30pm start at home, and this weekend they'll get it and be rewarded for their patience. Ohio State 44 Illinois 21

Andy McLachlan - Team Writer
You know it's a odd year when Buckeye fans are leery of the worst team in the Big Ten while their team is 9-0. We never know what to expect from this group. Will they go out and dominate Penn State/Nebraska or rally to beat Indiana/Purdue? Despite their issues against the weak, the Illini have far more problems going into November. Best case scenario, Braxton Miller plays under 70 perfect of the game and let him start his bye week a little early. Worst case, we're on the edge of our seat till the fourth quarter with Miller taking unnecessary hits to gain yards. I think this game lands between the two options above. Ohio State 34 Illinois 17

Tom Levenick - Time and Change Contributor/Former Player
The Illinois Fighting Illini visit The Shoe in Columbus Saturday after the Illini hosted the Buckeyes two years in a row in Champaign, IL. While Illinois has had recent success against the Buckeyes in Columbus, this year will "break the mold" with the Buckeyes routing the Illini. Nathan Scheelhaase is a very capable, mobile quarterback, and mobile quarterbacks have often given the Buckeyes defense fits. This year, however, Scheelhaase has a limited supporting cast with the Illini offense ranking last in the Big Ten in scoring offense and total offense. The Illini defense does not fare much better, ranking twelfth in scoring defense and 8th in total defense. I expect the Buckeyes to roll in this game with a strong performance leading into their bye week. Ohio State 56 Illinois 10

Doug Bean - Team Writer/Social Media
Ohio State proved me wrong last week with a win at Penn State. Now comes Illinois, which could be the worst team in a subpar Big Ten this year. The only thing that can stop the Buckeyes this week is themselves. The Illini lost to Indiana last week, scoring a mere 17 points against the Hoosiers defense. Enough said. Granted, Illinois has a track record of upsets against Ohio State, but this is not the year for that. The Buckeyes should concentrate on getting off to a fast start, unlike previous games against inferior opponents, and secure this puppy going into their bye week. Ohio State 45 Illinois 14

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