I've previously discussed the danger of this game, the "Trap Game". The fact that it is Illinois playing us does scare me, but I'm comforted by the fact that it is at home. Buoyed by 105,000 screaming scarlet-clad partisans, the Buckeyes seem to dominate.
We've won 18 straight games at home, out last defeat coming on September 10th, 2005....a span of 789 days (and counting).
Add to that the 20 straight Big Ten games we've won, and the 28 consecutive regular-season victories (29 or 30 overall).
Now the bad news;
Illinois has a devastating running game, the best we've seen and the best we will have to face all year (unless we see Oregon in a bowl game). Rashard Mendenhall has 1,300 yards thus far, and QB Juice Williams likes to take off from the shotgun position, picking up nearly 600 yards himself.
The NCAA ranks the Illini rushing game as the nation's 6th-best (and best in the Big Ten). If it helps put your mind at ease, Michigan State has the Big Ten's second-best rushing game and we held them to 59 yards on the ground.
The passing game...well, that's a different story. Juice Williams may be as good as Troy Smith with his feet, but he's more like Bubba Smith with his arm. Illinois has the NCAAs 113th-best passing offense. Williams has 8 TDs and 9 INTs to go with his league-low in yards.
Guess how Illinois is going to try and score?
Defensively, Illinois plays the same way they do on offense....all-run. Ranked 22nd best in run defense and 81st in pass defense.
So there you have it. Our top-ranked defense will get their big test against the run, and if we shut them down on 1st and 2nd down, it's going to be a long day for Ron Zook.
I'm concerned that we'll allow the most points we have all year, but if we play our usual offense, it'll be too much.
Ohio State 38