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OSU vs ILL   Game Preview


 Brutus Go Bucks! Chief Illiniwck

Rory Nichol Focuses on Illinois Source: Big Ten Network

5 key factors
November 15, 2008 Source: Columbus Dispatch - "1. Build a "Juice" box: Nobody needs to remind Ohio State what Illinois QB Juice Williams did to the Buckeyes last year (four TD passes, 70 yards rushing). OSU's defense needs to stay disciplined up front. Keep Williams in the pocket and don't give him lanes for a draw or allow him to roll to the perimeter. Make him stand and deliver: He can wing it, but 14 times this season he has thrown it to the other team...2. Benn, don't break...3. Mix it up on first down...4. Careful in the cold: Like last week in Evanston, the forecast is calling for another brisk Illinois day, with a high of 38. The Buckeyes forced three turnovers and committed none, raising their margin for the season to plus-13. The Illini, on the other hand, are minus-4, partly because of Williams' 14 interceptions but also because they have picked off just five passes...5. Early checkout?..."

On the edge
November 15, 2008 Source: Columbus Dispatch - "When Buckeyes pass - Edge: Illinois: OSU is 104th nationally in passing at 154.4 yards a game. Pryor is coming off a 197-yard, three-touchdown day, and has thrown just three interceptions in 129 pass attempts. Illinois has intercepted just five passes. The Illini, though, lead the Big Ten and are sixth nationally with 32 sacks, and Ohio State has given up 23...When Illini run - Edge: OSU...When Illini pass - Edge: Illinois: Juice Williams leads the Big Ten with 2,769 yards passing and 20 touchdowns, but he also tops the league with 14 interceptions. Arrelious Benn is second in the league in catches per game (6.0) and leads in yards (947), but has scored just three TDs. Freshman A.J. Jenkins made a big catch that gave the Illini a late chance vs. Western Michigan. Spurred by the rise of its front four, OSU leads the league in pass defense (164.4-yard average)....On special teams - Edge: OSU...Intangibles, other factors - Edge: OSU..."

Buckeyes can avenge last year's loss to Illini
November 14, 2008 Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer - "...'It'll be on our minds for next year,' Ohio State's Anderson Russell said moments after that loss on Nov. 10, 2007, 'but it's a long time till then.' Not that long. So does last year's game have any effect on today, when Ohio State plays at Memorial Stadium? Yes and no, though the Buckeyes, last year's losers, seemed to hang on to the past this week more than last year's victors did. Why it matters 1. It ended kind of nasty: Illinois' midfield celebration in Ohio Stadium led to a postgame scuffle in which punches were thrown. Coaches would show tape from a 100-year-old loss in the name of motivation, but this one is fresh..."

OSU Head Coach met with the media Thursday prior to the game against Illinois
Head Coach Jim Tressel spoke with the media Thursday
November 13, 2008 Source: Bucknuts - ""Head Coach Jim Tressel spoke with the media at his regularly scheduled Thursday press conference and did not walk out on the reporters this time. He did talk about the challenges that the team faces at Illinois this weekend, as well as the possibility of Terrelle Pryor playing a little basketball this winter."

Listen to the audioTressel, Fickell, Hazell Talk About Saturday's Game at Illinois
November 13, 2008 Source: OSU Official Site - "Head coach Jim Tressel met with reporters Thursday while assistant coaches Luke Fickell and Darrell Hazell met with the Columbus media Wednesday afternoon at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center to talk about Saturday's game at Illinois (Noon ET, ESPN). Ohio State can clinch at least a share of a fourth consecutive Big Ten championship if they win out. But first all the focus is on Illinois this Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill...Tressel talked about the matchup with Illinois, compared Vontae Davis to Malcolm Jenkins and Juice Williams to Terrelle Pryor, gave his thoughts on why OSU doesn't have a special teams coach...(Tressel commented on the possibility of a playoff in college football) 'Oh, there may be a day that we can get to that There will have to be significant changes in the way we do things...But I think before it’s all said and done that there will be some kind of playoff.'..."

Injury Updatespacer"...Tressel gave a quick injury update on his team. For this stage of the season The Buckeyes are in relatively good shape health-wise, but there are a few players banged up that are questionable (or worse) for Saturday. 'Jermale Hines, I don’t think will make it,' Tressel said. 'He'll go on the trip, but I'm not betting on him. Everyone else that was there last week… I think Thaddeus (Gibson) is healthier. I think Todd Denlinger is healthier.' Tressel was also asked about senior defensive end Curtis Terry and offered some surprising news. 'Curtis? No. He's been out for the year,' Tressel said... Senior running back Maurice Wells did not practice Tuesday after suffering an unspecified contusion in the game against the Wildcats, while senior wide receiver Brian Robiskie worked through some soreness Tuesday and also took part in Wednesday’s practice. " (Sources: Bucknuts & Buckeye Sports)

Buckeyes Set to Face Illinois Source: Big Ten Network

No. 10 Ohio State Travels to Champaign This Saturday
November 10, 2008 Source: OSU Official Site - "Ohio State looks to keep its Big Ten title hopes alive when it hits the road this Saturday for a Noon ET kickoff at Illinois...No. 10 Ohio State (8-2/5-1) visits Illinois (5-5/3-3) for a Big Ten game Saturday, November 15, 2008, at Memorial Stadium (65,000) in Champaign. This noon Eastern game will be televised by ESPN..."
Ohio State Game Notes (PDF)

OSU Cumulative Season Statistics

OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor in action against Northwestern-November 8, 2008 (Photo: Dan Harker, The Ozone)Pryor's passing earns more trust of coaches
November 13, 2008 Source: Columbus Dispatch - "Headed into his eighth start, Ohio State freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor continues to receive improving scores from his coaches. Whether he's ready to duel with Illinois' Juice Williams on Saturday remains to be seen, but Pryor proved last week in a 45-10 win at Northwestern that he's absorbing coaching points and making improvements on the fly. 'He gets a little bit better every week,' receivers coach Darrell Hazell said yesterday. 'The timing gets better. The relationship with the receivers gets a little bit better every week.'...In just six Big Ten games, Pryor is now No. 1 in the conference in passing efficiency with a 153.0 rating -- just ahead of Williams at 152.2 -- in a formula that heavily rewards touchdown passes minus interceptions, completion percentage and average yards per attempt..."

Ohio State sees need for pressurized Juice
November 13, 2008 Source: Columbus Dispatch - "The formula for containing Illinois quarterback Juice Williams is simple, Ohio State defenders say: Pressure. Tackle. Cover...It has been 368 days since Williams and the Illini shredded and embarrassed a proud Buckeyes defense. Everyone focuses on Williams' four touchdown passes that day, and his third- and fourth-down conversions in the fourth quarter that allowed Illinois to run out the clock for a 28-21 victory in Ohio Stadium. But a huge factor behind Illinois' success was its running game. Daniel Dufrene broke an 80-yard run on the Illini's second play from scrimmage, and Rashard Mendenhall later dashed 25 yards on a fourth-and-1. With defenders creeping up to focus on run support, Williams employed play-action fakes beautifully for several of his TDs...The Buckeyes chose not to bring an inordinate amount of pressure. They blitzed at times, but mostly with linebackers, and they also employed some three-man fronts. Williams was sacked once and did not throw an interception. It's a safe bet that Ohio State will try and put considerably more heat on Williams this time. 'To face a guy like that, you've got to be relentless and be in hard pursuit,' linebacker James Laurinaitis said. 'And hopefully, you can try to get some pressure on him, because if he has all day to throw, it's going to be a long day.'..."

Earle Bruce: OSU's offensive line not tough enough
November 14, 2008 Source: Mansfield News Journal - "Earle Bruce isn't disappointed in the Buckeyes season, but he's not happy with a part of the team. The former Ohio State football coach called out the offensive line during a WMRN-AM radio show at Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar in Marion on Wednesday. 'The people who are the underachievers are the people on the offensive line,' said Bruce, who compiled an 81-26-1 record at OSU from 1979-87. 'The people on the offensive line have to play physically tough and they have to be mentally into every game,' Bruce, said. 'We've had some injuries and have lost some guys there, but that's one area we could be better at.'..."

Last season's loss to Illinois still stings
November 12, 2008 Source: Columbus Dispatch - "Tressel downplays revenge, but players know the score...It was Senior Day in Ohio Stadium on Nov. 10 last year, a day for celebrating the contributions of departing seniors, and another day in what looked like a march to the national championship game for top-ranked Ohio State. llinois stood in the way. Even though the Illini were 7-3 and enjoying their best season in years, few expected what happened over the next three hours. Illinois put up a season-high 28 points on Ohio State's defense, forced three turnovers, then held the ball for the final 8:09 in a 28-21 victory. Afterward, several Illini players rushed to midfield and began celebrating on the Block O logo..."

Defensive Notes: OSU Looks To Seek Redemption, Squeeze Juice
November 12, 2008 Source: Bucknuts - "Ohio State will be out for redemption when it takes on Illinois Saturday in Champaign, Ill. With last season's 28-21 loss to the Fighting Illini still fresh in the minds of the Buckeyes' players, they are determined to not allow the same thing to happen this year. It should be a good matchup as OSU's defense and Illinois' offense are two of the top units in the Big Ten...The Buckeyes have the No. 2 total defense (269.8 yards per game) and No. 2 scoring defense (13 points per game) in the conference. The Fighting Illini counter with the No. 1 total offense (447.6 ypg) and No. 2 scoring offense (31.4 ppg) in the Big Ten..."

Personnel Report
November 12, 2008 Source: The Ozone - "Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel said on Tuesday that offensive lineman Ben Person is out until at least the bowl game...Defensive end Thad Gibson has been hobbled with an ankle sprain, but seems to be on the mend...Nickel back and reserve safety Jermale Hines is also battling injury. 'He practiced a little bit. He's hobbled around. Hopefully he'll be all right by tomorrow,' said Fickell on Wednesday. According to Tressel, running back Maurice Wells did not practice early in the week but defensive lineman Todd Denlinger, who has battled injury all season, did take part in drills...Hazell was asked about two young OSU receivers who have played in their freshman season, Lamar Thomas and DeVier Posey. Thomas has been very impressive as a kick returner, a position of weakness last season for the Buckeyes. 'He reminds me a little bit of Teddy (Ginn),' said Hazell...A player who could see some time as a punt returner some day is freshman receiver DeVier Posey...'He is going to be a phenomenal player when it's all said and done, a phenomenal player,' said Hazell..."


Series Record: Ohio State and Illinois will be meeting for the 95th 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 leads the series 60-30-4 and has a 32-12 advantage in Champaign. Between 1968 and 1982, the Buckeyes put together a 15-game winning streak against the Illini, the longest streak in the series by either team. Illinois won five in a row between 1988 and 1992. Ohio State has won three of the last four meetings.
TALE OF THE TAPE: 2008 Totals
OSU  Offense  ILL
26.6   Pts/gm  31.4
330.6  Total yds/gm   447.6
176.2   Rush yds/gm  169.7
40.6  Carries/gm  38.6
4.3  Yds/carry   4.4
154.4  Pass yds/gm   277.9
21.6  Pass att/gm  32.2
11.4  Yds/completion  15.2
OSU  Defense Allows  ILL
13.0  Pts/gm  26.2
269.8  Total yds/gm  351.1
105.4  Rush yds/gm  142.2
30.1  Carries/gm  30.2
3.5  Yds/carry  3.8
164.4  Pass yds/gm  209.0
32.3  Pass att/gm  29.9
8.9  Yds/completion  12.2

IN ROAD FINALES: Ohio State is 65-47-6 all-time in fi nal road games of the regular season. Under Coach Jim Tressel, the Buckeyes are 5-2 in those games.

Matchup Edge
OHIST   Edge in: ILL
Yards Gained
Yards Allowed
Time of Possession

Illinois Report Card (5-5)
L, 42-52 Missouri
W, 47-21 Eastern Illinois
W, 20-17 Louisiana-Lafayette
L, 24-38 at Penn State
W, 45-20 at Michigan
L, 20-27 Minnesota
W, 55-13 Indiana
L, 17-27 at Wisconsin
W, 27-24 Iowa
L, 17-23 Western Michigan

BIG TEN ROAD TRIPS: The Buckeyes currently hold a 14-game win streak in Big Ten road games. That’s the longest such string ever by an Ohio State football team. The conference record is 17 games, set by Michigan between 1988-92.

ILLIBUCK TROPHY: Illibuck is a wooden replica of a turtle 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.


OSU ILL: Big Ten Stats Offense
TEAM G Pts/G TotYds Yds/G 3rdD% 4th% Pen PenYds TD Plays
OSU 10 26.6 3306 330.6 .448 .500 55 462 26 622
ILL 10 31.4 4476 447.6 .426 .333 58 524 36 708

Stat Watch

Crunching the Numbers: Ohio State at Illinois
November 12, 2008 Source: Buckeye Sports - "Statistical rankings, stadium total yardage records and passer efficiency ratings are among the statistics we are chewing on this week. Also take a look at which categories have the Buckeyes or Fighting Illini atop the rankings and find out what the next milestone ahead is for Beanie Wells..."

Game Data: Ohio State at Illinois
November 13, 2008 Source: Bucknuts - "We have the pertinent data, depth charts and a prediction as 10th-ranked Ohio State visits Illinois Saturday (noon, ESPN). The Buckeyes have won six straight games at Champaign, but will be looking to avenge a home loss to the Illini from a year ago..."



This Week's Game Previews

The OzonespacerOhio State vs. Illinois Preview
November 13, 2008 Source: The Ozone - "Tony Gerdeman's preview of the OSU vs. Illinois game...Williams has four games of at least 300 yards passing, including two games of over 400 yards passing. In those four games, the Illini are only 1-3 with their lone win coming against Michigan. Illinois is 0-2 when Williams has passed for over 400 yards. Williams’ turnovers are up as well. He has already thrown fourteen interceptions after throwing just twelve last year. Of course, he already has 52 more attempts this season than he had all of last season..."

BucknutsspacerTen Questions For OSU-Illinois
November 15, 2008 Source: Bucknuts - "...Here are 10 questions we will look for answers for surrounding OSU’s game at Illinois...3. How will Beanie Wells perform against Illinois? – Wells was limited to 76 yards on 20 carries in last year’s loss to Illinois...4. How will OSU’s offensive line perform against Illinois? – The Illini lead the Big Ten in sacks. OSU’s depth on the offensive line has been whittled down to nil...5. Can the Buckeyes come up with a way to contain Juice Williams? – Williams is the Big Ten’s leading passer in terms of yardage...and much more..."

ESPNUspacerOhio St.-Illinois Preview
November 12, 2008 Source: ESPNU - "...Ohio State's hopes for a BCS bowl berth and a piece of the Big Ten title are at stake Saturday..."November decides where you go, point blank, period," Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor said. 'OK, we lost to Penn State and it's a big deal. Now if we lose to Illinois or Michigan, that's going to tear our seniors apart and I don't want that to happen. I won't let that happen.'..."

Record When Scoring... (Since 2001)

Buckeye Gameday ExtraspacerBuckeye Extra Gameday
November 14, 2008 Source: Columbus Dispatch - "BuckeyeXtra.com delivers all you need to know about the Buckeyes’ upcoming game. Click here for everything from the top story and key factors to player spotlights and game predictions. Features include: Saturday's Game, Five Key Factors, Play of the Week, On The Edge, In The Spotlight, Meet A Buckeye, (more)..."

Buckeye Planetspacer2008 Illinois Game Preview
November 13, 2008 Source: Buckeye Planet - Analysis and more, including: ...There is little doubt that Williams is one of the most dynamic players in the Big Ten...After a stellar freshman campaign where he caught 54 passes for 676 yards, big things were predicted in 2008 for Arrelious Benn, and he has not disappointed. He is on pace to go above the 1000 yard plateau and catch around 70 passes...Coming in to the season there was only one corner in the Big Ten who could stake an honest claim on the title of Best Corner in the conference other than Malcolm Jenkins: Vontae Davis...Illinois Fighting Illini Offensive Preview...Defensive Preview..Special Teams Preview..." (more)

Eleven WarriorsspacerPreview: #11 Ohio State at Illinois
November 14, 2008 Source: Eleven Warriors - ...Illinois may bring five losses into the matchup, but their offense currently leads the Big Ten in output...the number one goal for Ohio State should be containing Juice. Memorial Stadium is an incredibly uninspiring place to play and the Buckeyes will have to look to the embarrassing fourth quarter last season for inspiration...Illinois has to fantastic corners, but when forced into the nickel or dime packages, they can be exposed. Just ask Chase Daniel...."

BucknutsspacerIllinois Desperate For Win To Qualify For Postseason
November 14, 2008 Source: Bucknuts - "No. 10 Ohio State will try and keep its Big Ten championship hopes alive Saturday at Illinois (noon, ESPN), which needs a win in one of its last two games to qualify for postseason play. Quarterback Juice Williams, who hit the 6,000-yard plateau in his career last week, leads the way for the Illini...Illinois lost some key seniors off last year’s defense, including middle linebacker J Leman. Accordingly, Illinois is allowing almost a touchdown more per game this season..."


News from and about the other side

Illinois Official Site
Cumulative Season Statistics
2008 Media Guide

Ron Zook, Head Coach
Ass't Coaches & Team Roster
Source: Illinois Official Site

Post-practice interview with Co-Defensive Coordinator Dan Disch
November 14, 2008 Source: Illinois Official Site

Listen to the audio
The Last Word November 14, 2008 Source: Illinois Official Site
Brian Barnhart, the Voice of the Illini: Illinois vs. Ohio State preview

Things haven't exactly been rosy for Ron Zook and the Illini this season.Performing an Illini autopsy
November 14, 2008 Source: Chicago Sun Times - The over-reliance on young players, a vague rushing attack, and a midseason letdown, are some of the factors contributing to Illinois' decline, Herb Gould writes in the Chicago Sun-Times: "...Williams -- who had his coming-out party at Ohio State last year, passing for four touchdowns in Illinois' 28-21 victory -- is throwing much better. He is passing for 277.9 yards per game, more than double his average for his first two years (129.3), and has thrown a career-high 16 touchdown passes. But he also has thrown a career-high 14 interceptions...Everyone knew the running game would decline without Mendenhall. They didn't know the dip would be 110.7 yards per Big Ten game, from 262 to 151.3..."

Illini looking for a season-saver
November 10, 2008 Source: Chicago Sun Times - "Asked Sunday if the silver lining of playing No. 10 Ohio State on Saturday (11 a.m., ESPN) is that he won't have to worry about his players being up for the game, Ron Zook suppressed a grim laugh. There has been much discussion about the Illini not being emotionally ready in their losses to Minnesota, Wisconsin and Western Michigan..."

Illini Gear Up For Buckeyes Source: Big Ten Network

Illini must run effectively to beat Ohio State
November 9, 2008 Source: Chicago Tribune - "If Illinois has any chance to upset Ohio State on Saturday, it will have to find a way to get more production out of the running game. Juice Williams threw four touchdown passes in last year's upset of the Buckeyes in Columbus, but that is not easy to repeat. The Illini can't afford to reprise the running game that contributed to Saturday's 23-17 upset loss to Western Michigan. Illinois running backs combined for only 37 yards..."

Zook Updates Reporters At Weekly Media Luncheon
November 11, 2008 Source: Illinois Official Site - "...On scheming for Ohio State: 'I'm of the school where we don't care who we're playing. I honestly believe that anybody on our schedule can beat us any day so you have to prepare the same. Obviously our guys understand not only the importance of the game but also how good of a football team this is. This is a football team that's one of the better teams in the nation, one of the best if not the best. Last year when we played them they were the number one team in the nation and once again, I asked our football team last night. I said 'What's the difference between our football team right now as we're getting ready to play Ohio State, and the Monday before when we were getting ready to play Penn State?' We're a better football team right now than the Monday we were getting ready to play Penn State. But why? It's all the mental part that goes along with athletics and sports and football in particular. In terms of preparation, offensively, defensively, kicking game, they're as talented as anybody you're going to play. They're very well coached and I think right now they're hitting on all cylinders. They had an open date and then they played one game, so they're fresh and ready to go.'..."


Know Your Opponent

Vontae Davis#1 Vontae Davis
CLASS: Junior

Tied for second in the Big Ten in fumbles forced (0.30/game) ... Is 19th in the Big Ten in tackles per game with 6.4 ... Had six tackles against Western Michigan, including 0.5 TFLs ... Sealed the victory over Iowa with his first interception of the season, and returned two kickoffs ... Had three tackles at Wisconsin ... Led the Illini against Indiana with a forced fumble and seven tackles, including a TFL ... Tied his career high with two PBUs vs. Minnesota, also totaling seven tackles and a TFL ... Had nine tackles - six solos - and 2.0 TFLs at Michigan, with a forced fumble and a PBU ...


Juice Williams#7 Juice Williams
CLASS: Junior

Ranks seventh in the country and leads the Big Ten in total offense (334.6) ... Also ranks 21st in the NCAA?and second in the Big Ten in passing efficiency (141.9) ... Threw for 328 yards (20-of-45) and one touchdown against Western Michigan, also rushing 12 times for 68 yards ... Passed for 272 yards (22-of-37) and one touchdown against Iowa, also rushing 12 times for 30 yards ... Threw for 221 yards (17-for-32) and two touchdowns at Wisconsin ...


Arrelious Benn#7 Arrelious Benn
CLASS: Sophomore

Ranks 16th in the NCAAa nd first in the Big Ten in receiving yards per game (94.7) ... Also ranks second in the Big Ten in receptions per game (6.00) ... Tallied over 100 receiving yards in four consecutive games for the first time in school history (vs. Ind, Minn., Mich., PSU) ... Had 227 all-purpose yards against Western Michigan, with seven catches for 111 yards, two rushes for 10 yards, three kick returns for 75 yards and a punt return for 31 yards ...


Arrelious Benn#7 Martez Wilson
CLASS: Sophomore

Ranks 11th in the Big Ten in tackles per game with 6.9 ... Recorded three solo tackles against Western Michigan ... Had five tackles against Iowa ... Posted four tackles, one for loss, a sack, a career-tying two quarterback hurries and forced a fumble at Wisconsin ... Had five tackles and a career-high two QB hurries against Indiana ... Led the Illini against Minnesota with a career-high 13 tackles, including a career-high eight solos ... Had seven tackles at Michigan with five solos ...


National Rankings
Total Offense   Total Defense

Sports Lines For amusement only...

No. 10 Ohio State (8-2) at Illinois (5-5):

Sports Babe Official
covers.com Match-Up Preview - Live Odds - Matchup Edge

bodog.com Matchup & Preview

Vegas Insider Las Vegas Line Movements
Record Analysis
Current Line OSU -9.5 11/12/08

pregame.com Point Spread / Total / Money Line

Stat Fox Current Power Ratings: OSU #8


The Weather Channel Champaign Forecast

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