Ohio State goes for a perfect 10-0 start under Urban Meyer in this Saturday's tilt against the Illinois Fighting Illini this weekend at home.
The Buckeyes can't play in the postseason due to sanctions from the Jim Tressel era, but Ohio State still has plenty to play for with an undefeated season in the balance. The 9-0 Buckeyes have been one of the few teams that have stood out in the mediocre Big Ten.
The Illini have been absolutely awful this season. At 2-6 with no wins in conference play, Illinois knows that a shocking upset over the Buckeyes would define its season. Here's everything you need to know about this Big Ten matchup.
When: Saturday, November 3 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
Live Stream: ESPN.com
Radio: Free Football Radio
Betting Line (via Covers.com)
Over/Under: 51.5, Line: Ohio State (-26)
Given Ohio State's explosive offense, the high over/under is no surprise. Illinois' defense has been awful all season and is 89th in the country in points allowed. If the game goes over, it will be because Braxton Miller has a field day.
The line is no surprise either as Ohio State should win this one easily. Unless something dramatically goes awry, the Buckeyes cruise to a victory. Considering their potent rushing attack, they won't even be able to conservatively run the clock without running up the score.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
Nick Immekus, K, Questionable
Jake Howe, DL, Out for Season
Henry Dickinson, LB, Out for Season
Etienne Sabino, LB, Questionable
Devan Bogard, DB, Out Indefinitely
Jordan Hall, RB, Out Indefinitely
Warren Ball, RB, Out Indefinitely
BCS/Top 25 Implications
Thanks to the NCAA sanctions against the Buckeyes and the general ineptitude of Illinois' team, there are no BCS implications to the game.
However, there are Top 25 implications for Ohio State, who is still eligible to be ranked by the AP poll. The Buckeyes are currently No. 6 in the poll and need a win to stay in that spot. Since Illinois isn't a high-caliber opponent, they probably won't gain many spots on the merit of a win but could move up if the teams in front of them lose.
With the outside possibility of a No. 1 ranking from the Associated Press at the end of the season, the Buckeyes must win this game.
Illinois Player to Watch: Nathan Scheelhaase, QB
If the Illini are to have any chance of an upset whatsoever, they'll need a mammoth effort from junior quarterback Scheelhaase.
Scheelhaase came to Illinois as a promising dual-threat quarterback and looked like the future of Illini football as a freshman. However, ever since that season when ran for 868 yards and threw for 17 touchdowns, he's regressed with the program.
Scheelhaase has never beaten Ohio State and he'll need to revert back to his freshman form if he wants to give his team a chance.
Ohio State Player to Watch: Braxton Miller, QB
Miller, unlike Scheelhaase, hasn't regressed a bit from his impressive freshman season.
The athletic sophomore has been a perfect fit in Urban Meyer's spread system and is still a candidate for the Heisman. Miller is still developing as a passer but his numbers as a runner this season have been jaw-dropping.
He already has over 1,000 rushing yards through nine games and should run all over the defense this week. With a favorable matchup this week, it wouldn't be surprising to see Meyer test his passing before they finish the season with Wisconsin and Michigan.
Miller is definitely the player to watch in this one.
Prediction: Ohio State 38, Illinois 10
Miller and the Ohio State offense are simply too much for Illinois. The Buckeyes hold the advantage in every facet of the game and should win this one easily.
The program in Champaign is going through a really difficult season, and playing the Buckeyes certainly won't make things any better. The Buckeyes will take the next step towards a perfect season with an easy victory.