Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 10/14/11

When was the last time Ohio State were underdogs to the Fighting Illini? Was Dick Butkus still on campus? When the 3-3 Buckeyes visit #15 6-0 Illinois Saturday, no one will expects them to win.

And why should they? Whenever Illinois and Ohio State are close to being on the same page, the Illini almost always win. Whenever OSU is way above Illinois (what happens in most seasons) tOSU wins. This year, the roles are totally reversed as Ohio St. is 0-2 in the Big Ten for just the second time since 1993, and losers of back-to-back games for the first time in 88 games (2004), snapping the nation’s longest streak without consecutive losses.

But hey, they do rank sixth in the NCAA with 27.4 yards per kickoff return. And given the opening kick disaster for the Illini last week in Bloomington, this statistic might have more relevance than you think.

Illinois won five in a row in this series from 1988-1992, and that sadly includes their most recent home win over the Buckeyes (1991). This sounds a little bit BUCKNUTS!!! but the Illini do much better in Columbus, winning there four times in the past fifteen years, including the famous 2007 game when OSU was #1.

Buckeyes visit #15 6-0 Illinois on Saturday, no one will be expecting them to win.

#16 Illinois Fighting Illini (6-0, 2-0) Analysis:

No one is left from that ’07 win, the first Illini win versus a #1 in over a half-century. Time to make new memories. Offensively, Illinois is led by quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, fifth nationally and second
in the Big Ten in pass efficiency (175.83). Then there’s probably Biletnikoff Award finalist A.J. Jenkins is fifth in the nation with 135.8 yards receiving per game. He leads in overall receiving yards (816) and percentage of his team’s receiving yards (61%). Nevada’s Rishard Matthews is second at 49.9%

Defensively, Illinois ranks first in the Big Ten and sixth nationally in sacks with 3.67 per game, first in overall sacks. DE Whitney Mercilus (greatest. football player name. ever.) is second in the NCAA with
1.42 sacks per game. DB Tavon Wilson was named Big Ten and CFPA national defensive player of the week. Wilson returned a fumble 66 yards for a TD and also recorded a team-high 11 tackles, nine solos, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack and PBU.

Wilson talked about the ’07 win at Ohio St.

“That was a great win for the program back then, but I’ve never beaten Ohio State so it would mean a lot to beat them. I wasn’t a part of it, but I remember watching that. it was an exciting game where they went down and socred on the first possession,” Wilson said about Ohio State, then and now.

He was actually committed to the University of Maryland at the time, but that win help change his mind to come to Illinois.

To see why the Illini are Dr. Dre in my Big Ten Power Rankings (All Hip-hop MCs edition) go here

 

 

Ohio State Buckeyes (3-3, 0-2)

Ohio State is tied for 17th nationally in fewest points allowed at 17.8 ppg. Illinois is right there with them, also at 17.8.

The quarterback issue at Ohio State is settled. Braxton Miller is the starter – he solidified the position after a solid performance at Nebraska. Joe Bauserman further solidified the position after an abysmal performance (1-10 passing for 13 yards) when he came in for the injured Miller The question now for Ohio State – and one that is a far better problem to have – is at running back.

Carlos Hyde stepped up big against Nebraska, but senior Dan ‘Boom’ Herron returns from suspension this week, giving Ohio State the enjoyable problem of having multiple running backs who can be successful.

‘Boom’ rushed for 1155 yards and 16 touchdowns last season,

Ohio St has not finished with a losing record since going 4-6-1 in 1988 (John Cooper’s first season). Their run of 21 straight seasons without a losing record is the third-longest among active FBS teams. Florida State has gone 34 straight seasons and Florida 31 seasons since going 0-10-1 in 1979. Virginia Tech and Texas Tech have the fourth-longest runs at 18.

So if the Bucks finish 5-7 or worse, it would be kind of a big deal.

To see why the Buckeyes are Kanye West in my Big Ten Power Rankings (All Hip-hop MCs edition) go here

Prediction to be taken with an entire truckload of salt, not a grain of salt: Ill 20, OSU 17 (2010-11 prediction record 28-13)

It was thought that Devier Posey would be done with his suspension, and back for this game. But last Friday, the NCAA gave him another 5-game-suspension.

“I was looking forward to facing him, when I played corner I faced him two years ago. I wanted them to have all their players  but its unfortunate he can’t play,” said Tavon Wilson.

“I’m not disappointed, but I would like for them to all their best players. but we’ll be ready to play no matter who lines up out there,” he continued.

With the 111th ranked passing attack in the nation not getting the one weapon back that would augment it…that’s the difference in this one. I also the Illini DL vs. the OSU OL being a big advantage for Illinois.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

He’s appeared on live radio all across the world from Houston to New Zealand. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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