Coach Tressel Answers Questions Thursday Afternoon November 8, 2007 Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer - "The top-ranked Buckeyes are gearing up for the final home game of the 2007 season Saturday against Illinois and head coach Jim Tressel sat down with the Columbus media on Thursday afternoon at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center..."
Transcript From Coach Tressel Weekly Press Conference November 6, 2007 Source: OSU Official Site - "Ohio State-Wisconsin was a battle. We knew going into it that there were going to be moments when it was going okay and there were going to be moments when it was going to not look as good, and that we had to fight through it..."
Tressel sidesteps Michigan questions November 7, 2007 Source: Dayton Daily News - "...Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel was asked Monday about preparing for the Wolverines throughout the year. 'I was here with Coach (Earle) Bruce, and I don't remember us preparing for the Michigan game other than trying to get better,' Tressel said. 'But I don't know how much of that is folklore and how much of it is fact.'..."
Jim Tressel conference call November 6, 2007 Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer - "Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel addressed the media today in a Big Ten conference call. Hear what coach Tressel had to say about surviving Wisconsin, the upcoming game against Illinois (and Senior Day), "Beanie" Wells, why he wears a tie on the sideline and his climb up the coaching ladder..."
NO BACKING DOWN: When tailback Chris Wells signed a national letter of intent with Ohio State two years ago, running backs coach Dick Tressel said, 'He absolutely reminds me of Jim Brown. I know I shouldn’t say that, but I’ve told him that too.' Dick Tressel says he hasn't taken any heat from anyone else on the OSU coaching staff for that statement, not even his brother, the head coach. And his younger brother stood behind him earlier this week on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. 'That made perfect sense to me,' Jim Tressel said. 'He has a similar stature and similar style. Obviously, he has a long way to go to reach the excellence of the great Jim Brown. But Beanie’s getting better every day.' Wells has 1,165 yards rushing this season. In his last three games, he has gained 221 yards against Michigan State, 133 against Penn State and 169 against Wisconsin.
Tressel and Ohio State Prepare for Illinois November 6, 2007 Source: ESPN.com - "In a season of upsets, Ohio State has remained remarkably consistent. That's because the Buckeyes are taking it one game at a time, according to head coach Jim Tressel."
Tressel on Illinois: 'They've got home run hitters' November 6, 2007 Source: Columbus Dispatch - "The last time Ohio State and Illinois hooked up, things did not go swimmingly for the Buckeyes...'We didn't seem to be in sync (offensively),' OSU coach Jim Tressel said today, reflecting on that game at Illinois in which the Buckeyes were outscored 10-0 in the second half. 'But to their credit, they knocked us out of sync.' That's one of the main reasons he thinks his Buckeyes -- top-ranked again going into the last home game this season against Illinois on Saturday -- won't be caught looking ahead to the finale at Michigan..."
Talkin' Tressel: Two To Go November 6, 2007 Source: OSU Official Site - "The Buckeyes have just two games remaining in the regular season, and head coach Jim Tressel told reporters at his weekly press luncheon that his team's focus is on the here and now and not next week's Michigan game. Get the latest on Rob Rose, Ross Homan and more in this weekly update..."
Nov. 6 Ohio State Football Quotes November 6, 2007 Source: OSU Official Site - "Buckeyes Brian Hartline and Austin Spitler speak to the media after Jim Tressel's weekly press luncheon..."
Assistant Coaches Fickell, Hazell Address the Media Wednesday November 7, 2007 Source: OSU Official Site - "Co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell along with assistant head coach and wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell addressed the media Wednesday after practice leading up to Saturday's game with Illinois..."
Ohio State Post Practice Player Quotes November 6, 2007 Source: OSU Official Site - "Just days before their final game in Ohio Stadium, the football seniors sat down to talk with the Columbus media on Tuesday after practice at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. No. 1 Ohio State takes on Illinois Saturday..."
Barton gets teammates' attention November 7, 2007 Source: Columbus Dispatch - "...He reminded them of what the next two games against Illinois and Michigan mean, of how wins could take the top-ranked Buckeyes to their ultimate goal, the national championship game..."
Improved tackling puts defense among the elite November 9, 2007 Source: Columbus Dispatch - "At this point in a college football season, team statistics become truths, and the truth is, the Ohio State defense is having a memorable year tackling..."
INJURY UPDATES: According to Jim Tressel: Aaron Gant will be back this week; defensive end Robert Rose did not dress for the Wisconsin game but "Rob might be able to give us a little more this week than last because it's a different style game, but I don't know that we can count on him to be a 25 or more play guy;" Todd Denlinger continues to improve and should see more action against Illinois; defensive back Chimdi Chekwa "had a temperature and we have to make sure he's fine, but he'll go tomorrow;" Ross Homan is most likely done for the regular season and will probably apply for a medical redshirt, although it is not a sure thing that the NCAA will grant it.
SALUTING THE SENIORS
Ohio State will recognize its seniors in pregame ceremonies before the Illinois game. Playing their final game at Ohio Stadium will be: OT Kirk Barton (Massillon, Ohio); DL Brett Daly (Elyria, Ohio); OL Dan Dye (Napoleon, Ohio); PK Andrew Good (Boardman, Ohio); LB Larry Grant (Norcross, Ga.); LS Jackson Haas (Piqua, Ohio); FB Dionte Johnson (Columbus, Ohio); WR David Lisko (Hilliard, Ohio); LS Dimitrios Makridis (Warren, Ohio); FB Trever Robinson (Richmond, Va.); WR Brent Ullery (Centerville, Ohio); and FB Tyler Whaley (Ironton, Ohio). Devin Jordan (Massillon, Ohio), Curt Lukens (North Canton, Ohio) and De’Angelo Haslam (Akron, Ohio), all of whom suffered career-ending injuries, and senior manager Jon Yeagley (Ashtabula, Ohio) will also be recognized.
Like father like son: "Not only will fullback Dionte Johnson take a bow as one of the 15 senior players taking part in their last home game, he'll be joined in the captains' huddle by his father, Pepper Johnson. A two-time captain for the Buckeyes in 1984 and '85, Pepper Johnson is the honorary captain today. 'It's going to be so great to have him here, because he usually has to watch our games on TV,' Dionte Johnson said. Pepper Johnson is defensive line coach for the unbeaten New England Patriots, who have a bye this weekend.
REGULAR-SEASON WINS RECORD Ohio State has won 28 consecutive regular season games, dating back to a 17-10 loss at Penn State Oct. 8, 2005; the previous Buckeye record for consecutive regular-season wins was 21 games, set from 1967-69.
BIG TEN CONSECUTIVE WINS Ohio State has won 20 consecutive Big Ten conference games, dating back to a 17-10 loss at Penn State Oct. 8, 2005. That sets an all-time Ohio State record for consecutive conference wins; the previous OSU best was 17, set from 1954-56, 1967-69 and 1974-76. That also sets a new Big Ten record for consecutive conference wins; the previous Big Ten best was 19.
Ohio State and Illinois will be meeting for the 94th time since the series was inaugurated in 1902. Until the series was interrupted in 2003, the two teams had played every year from 1914 to 2002. Ohio State has won the last three meetings, but Illinois has prevailed in two of the last three matchups at Ohio Stadium.
SERIES INFORMATION Overall: Ohio State leads, 60-29-4
In Columbus: Ohio State leads, 26-17-4
In Champaign: Ohio State leads, 32-12-0
Neutral Site: Ohio State leads, 2-0
Last Ohio State Win: 17-10, 2006
Last Illinois Win: 34-22, 2001
Biggest Margin of Victory for OSU: 48-0, 1996
Biggest Margin of Victory for Illinois: 46-0, 1904
Longest Winning Steak for OSU: 15, (1968-82)
Longest Winning Steak for Illinois: 5, (1988-92)
Current Win Streak: Ohio State, 3
Time of Possession
Last Time Out... November 6, 2007 Source: BuckeyeSports.com - "Senior Day - and the Illinois Fighting Illini - await the Buckeyes this weekend. Check out how Ohio State did against Illinois in its last meeting in this edition of "Last Time Out..."
OSU recalls 2006 Illinois comeback November 6, 2007 Source: Akron Beacon Journal - "Last year's game against the University of Illinois Fighting Illini proved to be a trap the Ohio State Buckeyes barely escaped. Up 17-0 at halftime, OSU saw Illinois scream back to get within seven, in the process holding the Buckeyes to lows in points, total yards and passing yards to that point in the season, and providing their first real test. 'I thought they played very physical, and I thought we had some things that we could have executed better, and we were doing pretty well for a little bit, and then we hit a point in time where we lost the momentum,' coach Jim Tressel said. 'And a lot of times, especially when we go to somebody else's stadium, when the momentum shifts, it's hard to get it back.'..."
Schedule & Results To Date
Ohio State 10-0 Youngstown St. W: 38-6
Akron W: 20-2
Washington W: 14
Northwestern W: 58-7
Minnesota W: 30-7
Purdue W: 23-7
Kent State W: 48-3
Michigan St. W: 24-17
Penn St. W: 37-17
Wisconsin W: 38-17
Illinois 7-3 Missouri L: 40-34
Western Ill. W: 21-0
Syracuse W: 41-20
Indiana W: 27-14
Penn St. W: 27-20
Wisconsin W: 31-26
Iowa L: 10-6
Michigan L: 27-17
Ball St. W: 28-17
Minnesota W: 44-17
Why to watch: On its ill-fated run to a seemingly certain 2006 national championship, Ohio State's one mini-speed bump came in a battle with Illinois, winning 17-10, as the only time anyone came within double digits until the Michigan classic. It's possible that this year's version of the Buckeyes is even better, with a more complete defense, improved offensive line, and skill players that are putting up numbers that aren't that far off from last year's juggernaut. Of course, the Big Ten world revolves around next week's battle with the Wolverines, but the Illini will pose a worthy test. Ron Zook's club had its fun last week against Minnesota, running for 441 yards in a rout, and now is looking to finish in the number three spot and go somewhere in Florida for New Year's Day. Is this the young team's coming of age, or is it just going to be another lesson applied by a Buckeye team humming on all cylinders? While firmly entrenched in the top spot, OSU could use a style points win over a good team to get a still skeptical nation to start believing that this really and truly is a team worthy of the national title, and not just a very good squad rolling through the weak and sad Big Ten.
Why Illinois might win: Illinois has just enough of a mix of talents to actually pull this off. The defense is strong against the run, is able to disrupt things in the backfield, has the best offensive line the Buckeyes have seen all year, and, of course, the running game that could control the game at times. While the passing numbers are lousy, ranking last in the Big Ten in both yards and pass efficiency, they're misleading. At times, Juice Williams has thrown effectively well, completing 14 of 21 passes against Minnesota and doing just enough to get by Wisconsin. He was fine against both Iowa and Michigan, even in defeat. If he can keep the turnovers to a minimum, and if the defense can avoid getting steamrolled in the fourth quarter once the Buckeye offensive line starts to jell, this will be a sixty minute war.
Why Ohio State might win: Illinois had just enough of a mix of talents to actually pull this off ... and Ohio State has the linebacking corps to keep that from happening. James Laurinaitis gets all the accolades, and is likely to secure the Butkus Award after a 19-stop day against the Badgers, but his running mates, Marcus Freeman and Larry Grant, will be just as vital. For the Illinois offense to work, Williams and Rashard Mendenhall have to get loose past the line and have to be able to get to the outside. That's not going to happen against this group. Iowa's great defensive front seven shut down the Illini cold, and while Penn State didn't have the same overall success dealing with the running quarterbacks, Ohio State will have few problems taking away at least one of the options.
Who to watch: No, Chris "Beanie" Wells isn't in the Heisman chase, but the Buckeye sophomore has put himself on the map for next year with seven 100-yard days, 1,165 yards and ten touchdowns, highlighted by an impressive three score day last week. The Illinois run defense, led by LB J Leman, will have to be prepared for the cutback runs that Wells has feasted on, but that's easier said than done. He's showing great patience, reading his blocks well, and taking advantage of every opening. If he runs for more yards than Mendenhall, this will be an ugly blowout.
What will happen: There won't be any letdown factor going into the Michigan game considering this is the last home game of the year. Illinois will come up with an early scoring drive, but won't be able to get the offense moving for a full four quarters. The Illinois secondary hits like a ton of bricks, but it also covers like it. The two running games will be equally mediocre, Ohio State will be able to throw, Illinois won't.
CFN Prediction: Ohio State 30 ... Illinois 17 ... Line: Ohio State -15
Additional Comments: The stats above cover all games.
When considering Big Ten games only, the Illini are the second-most penalized team in the league, their opponents the least-penalized team in the league.
The Illini have allowed just four sacks in league play, the Buckeyes seven.
Though they lead the league in rushing, the Illini are tied for ninth in the league in time of possession when considering league games only at 27.34 per game. The Buckeyes average 32:20 per game in league play, second-best in the conference.
Preview: #1 OSU v. Illinois November 8, 2007 Source: Eleven Warriors - "The Fighting Illini roll into town this weekend to take on the top-ranked Buckeyes in what would normally be the perfect setup for a trap game. They are a talented squad powered by a stud running back and a game-breaking wide receiver...Then, Tuesday night happened..."
Preview: OSU vs. Illinois November 10, 2007 Source: Dayton Daily News - "Position-by-position analysis of today's game...Prediction: Ohio State 35, Illinois 7..."
The Essentials: Illinois November 8, 2007 Source: BuckeyeSports.com - "Players to watch, themes to know - its the essential guide to Illinois, the most important notes about the Fighting Illini before Ohio State hosts its final game of the year in the Horseshoe on Senior Day..."
Preview: Unbeaten Ohio State hosts Illinois Source: ESPN.com - "Though their biggest rival and a likely showdown for a conference championship looms a week from now, the top-ranked Buckeyes won't look past their meeting with bowl-eligible Illinois on Saturday in a Big Ten matchup at Ohio Stadium..."
Illinois at Ohio State Matchups
Key individual matchup
"Illinois QB Juice Williams and ILB James Laurinaitis...Williams is a dangerous open-field runner who can make the first defender miss, occasionally pick up yards after contact and turn on the jets when he gets into space. Unfortunately for him, that won't be enough against Laurinaitis who takes sound pursuit angles, has sideline-to-sideline range and wraps up upon contact. That's not the worst of it for Williams either. He has to hold onto the ball as long as possible when running Illinois' option package, essentailly waiting for Laurinaitis to close in on him. The reason is Laurinaitis is smart, athletic and explosive enough to peel of Williams and bring RB Mendenhall to the ground when Williams pitches the ball too early. Laurinaitis could make an even greater impact when Williams drops back to pass. He is an excellent pass rusher who times blitzes well and has the closing burst to force Williams to get rid of the ball quickly. Williams must also locate and look Laurinaitis off when throwing over the middle of the field. Laurinaitis, who has two interceptions this year, reads opposing quarterbacks' eyes and he rarely drops passes he should catch."
Patience to be OSU's key virtue vs. Illini Patience is the watchword that top-ranked Ohio State will take into a game today with Illinois, and it will pertain to the offense and the defense. For example, Illinois likes to deploy its spread option offense, see how the defense adjusts and get a play from a coach on the sideline. 'They have a look-look scheme,' Ohio State linebacker Austin Spitler said. 'They're going to go out there, break the huddle, look to the sideline, the coach is going to give them a signal, then they're going to run that play. Basically, as a defensive unit we're going to move around and maybe make them make a wrong call every now and then against our defense.' That's also what the Illinois defense will try to do. The Illini like to shift their linemen or linebackers just before the snap, or have their defensive backs step forward or move to another area to confuse the offense. The strategy helped the Illini shut out the Buckeyes in the second half last season, but OSU still won 17-10. 'The linebackers try to wall some guys and keep (receivers) out of the middle of the field, and the safeties roll and rotate a lot,' receiver Brian Hartline said. 'It's just going back to the fundamentals and not paying attention to all of the movement. You don't read it (before the snap) and think it's going to stay that way. You just read it for what it is and kind of play it on the run.'"
On the edge: "When Buckeyes run...When Buckeyes pass...When Illini run...When Illini pass...Special teams...Other factors..." (Source: Columbus Dispatch)
Scouting Ohio State and Illinois November 8, 2007 Source: Warren Tribune-Chronicle - "Here is a quick look at the Buckeyes and Illini: * QUARTERBACKS: Juice Williams can hurt defenses with his arm and his legs. He is the best running quarterback in the Big Ten, with 568 yards and five touchdowns, but he also has thrown eight touchdown passes..."
Illinois Returns To Respectability Under Zook November 8, 2007 Source: Bucknuts.com - "The first two years of the Ron Zook era at Illinois were largely forgettable as the Fighting Illini amassed just four wins. But Zook has the Illini back to respectability this year. The Illini are 7-3 overall as they prepare to visit No. 1-ranked Ohio State Saturday..."
Crunching The Numbers: OSU-Illinois November 7, 2007 Source: BuckeyeSports.com - "To find out something Dionte and father Pepper Johnson have in common (aside from a last name), how some of the Buckeye strengths matchup with the Fighting Illini weaknesses, where this rivalry ranks against some of Ohio State's others and more, check out this week's version of Crunching The Numbers..."
Game Data: Illinois at Ohio State at Ohio State November 7, 2007 Source: Bucknuts.com - "This is our Game Data page where we have the pertinent information, depth charts and a prediction as top-ranked Ohio State hosts its home finale against Illinois Saturday (3:30 p.m., ABC in Midwest, ESPN elsewhere). Click this link for more..."
In the spotlight: Rashard Mendenhall, 5 feet 11 and 225 pounds, is eighth in the country in rushing, averaging 131.4 yards. He is the engine to an Illinois offense that leads the Big Ten in rushing with a 261.3-yard average. 'He is a great running back,' Ohio State linebacker Larry Grant said. 'Of course, he is going to be the best we've faced all year long, so right now he is in a category by himself. He can cut. He's got a lot of power. He's pretty fast, too.'...Illinois' league-best running game against Ohio State's league-best running defense that allows 65.0 yards per game...Mendenhall has rushed for 139 or more yards six times this year, including 201 in a victory over Minnesota last week. But in losses to Missouri, Iowa and Michigan, he was limited to 33, 67 and 85 yards..."
Illini hope they've found their passing stride November 9, 2007 Source: Associated Press - " Juice Williams surprised himself Saturday when he threw a career-high two touchdown passes and ran for another against Minnesota. In Illinois' 44-17 win over the Gophers, the sophomore quarterback completed a season-best 14-of-21 passes for 207 yards, and had probably the best day of his college career..."
Zook Looks Forward To Illinois' Contest At Top-Ranked Ohio State November 6, 2007 Source: Illinois Official Site - "Illinois head football coach Ron Zook met with the media on Tuesday to talk about this weekend's game against the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus. Find out what Zook said in this teleconference recap..."
There is fight in the Illini November 8, 2007 Source: NewarkAdvocate.com - "...Although the Illini haven't beaten a No. 1 team in 11 tries since 1956, they made it competitive in their last clash with top-ranked Ohio State, 17-10 last year. They already have been giant killers once this season, ending the nation's longest winning streak at 14 games with a 31-26 victory at home against Wisconsin on Oct. 6..."
Illini players ready for OSU challenge November 5, 2007 Source: Chicago Tribune - "...So what about that kind of challenge? 'I believe our kids understand it,' (Head coach Ron) Zook said. 'They're excited about this opportunity, the same thing as when we played Wisconsin when they were No. 5 and Michigan on national TV. This is a great opportunity to measure ourselves.'..."
#5 Rashard Mendenhall RB Skokie IL The conference's leading rusher with 1,314 yards, ran for 201 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries in a 44-17 win at Minnesota last Saturday night...2007 Notes:Tied for 28th in the nation in scoring and is 17th nationally in rushing...Fifth in the Big Ten in scoring and fourth in rushing...Ranked 33rd in the nation and fifth in the Big Ten in all-purpose yards...Ranked 15th in the Big Ten in total offense...Had 18 carries for 85 yards, and caught four passes for 26 yards against #26 Michigan...2006: Finished the season ranking 10th in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game and had a league-best 8.2 yards per carry for the season..."
#7 Juice Williams QB Chicago IL Has completed 56.2% of his passes for 1138 yards and 8 TDs and 9 interceptions...2007 Notes:Ranked 12th in the Big Ten in total offense and 17th in rushing...Hit 8-of-14 passes for 70 yards and a touchdown against #25 Michigan, to go along with seven carries for 17 yards...2006: Earned honorable mention freshman All-America honors by The Sporting News...Named the team's Rookie of the Year...Rushed for 145 yards vs. Purdue, which was the most for an Illinois quarterback in a single game, and scored his first career rushing TB against the Boilermakers...Was one of five true-freshmen quarterbacks in the nation to start during the 2006 season..."
#47 J Lehman LB Champaign IL 2007 Notes:Currently tied for 10th in the nation and is first in the Big Ten in tackles with 11.13 per game...Recorded eight tackles, including three solos, against No. 25 Michigan...Butkus Award Candidate, Preseason First-Team All-America (Blue Ribbon), Preseason Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year (Blue Ribbon), Preseason Honorable Mention All-America (Street & Smith), Rated Top-3 Linebacker (Rivals), Preseason First-Team All-Big Ten (USA Today, cbs.sportsline.com, Athlon, Lindy's, Street & Smith, Blue Ribbon, Phil Steele,collegefootballnews.com), Rated Big Ten's Hardest-Hitting Linebacker (The Sporting News), Ninth-rated NFL Talent in Big Ten (Lindy's)..."
#9 Arrelious Benn WR Washington D.C. Has 46 receptions for 573 yards, an average of 12.5 yards per reception... 2007 Notes:Tied for ninth in receptions per game and is 13th in receiving yards per game in the Big Ten...Had five catches for 35 yards against #25 Michigan...High School: 2006 USA Today first-team All-American...Parade All-American...2006 DC Gatorade Player of the Year...Named the Walter Payton Award winner by EA Sports for most-dedicated high school athlete...2006 East U.S. Army All-American...SuperPrep All-American...Earned first-team All-Met honors by The Washington Post in both 2005 and 2006...Named the SuperPrep MidAtlantic Offensive Player of the Year...Rated the 17th-best player in the country by Rivals.com...Also ranked No. 17 by ESPN.com..."
#1 Vontae Davis DB Washington D.C. 2007 Notes: Named Thorpe semifinalist...Tied for third in the Big Ten in interceptions...Notched three solo tackles and had a career-long 63-yard kickoff return to open the game against #25 Michigan...2006:Named to Freshman All-America first teams by The Sporting News, Scout.com and Rivals.com...Earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors by both the coaches and the media...Named to the freshman All-Big Ten team by The Sporting News...Named the team's Rookie of the Year..."