Week 10 – Illinois at Ohio State

Posted Nov 2, 2012

Week 10 Fearless Predictions - Illinois at Ohio State


Illinois (2-6) at Ohio State (9-0) Nov. 3, 3:30, ESPN

Here's The Deal: It's best vs. worst as the unbeaten Buckeyes have to keep their focus for a dead Illinois team that's not playing anywhere near up to its talent level while quickly sinking further and further into the abyss. On a five-game losing streak with the only FBS win coming over Western Michigan, the Illini can't seem to find anything positive in blowout after blowout, with the ultimate indignity coming in a 31-17 loss to Indiana. Even so, there's still a pie-in-the-sky insane dream of flipping the switch and rolling through winnable games against Minnesota and Purdue to stay alive for a bowl bid with the trip to Northwestern to close things out, but first the team needs to do more than get steamrolled by Ohio State.

The Buckeyes are answering every challenge to keep the dream probation season alive as the practice for 2013, but with showdowns against Wisconsin and Michigan to close things out in a few weeks, not looking past Illinois is a must. OSU is playing just well enough to explode when needed to put games away, but the defense is still a bit shaky and there have been a few too many close calls. The Michigan State, Purdue and Cal games could've gone either way, but good teams win the tight ones.

Why Illinois Might Win: It might not seem like it, but Illinois has the defensive front seven to shut down Braxton Miller and the Ohio State ground game by getting into the backfield on a consistent basis. The O line hasn't been a rock, but that's partially because Miller rumbles around and gets caught from time to time behind the line. Illinois has been awful when it comes to tackles for loss and getting to the quarterback, but the ability is there to rise up use the athleticism of Michael Buchanan and Darrius Caldwell to get behind the line. Overall, the defense hasn't been a problem, especially against the run.

Why Ohio State Might Win: The Illinois offense is a complete and total mess. Ohio State might not be the Houston Texans on defense, but it's not awful and it should be able to shut down the Big Ten's worst offense. Struggling to score against Penn State, Wisconsin or Michigan is one thing, but putting up 17 against Indiana is another problem. Against BCS conference teams, Illinois is averaging just over ten points per game, and on the year, all six losses have come by 14 points or more. If the Buckeyes can score early, this is over.

What To Watch Out For: Is anything going right for the Illini? The defense isn't awful, but the team's best aspect has been the Big Ten's No. 1 punting game with Justin DuVernois averaging over 42 yards per boot. For Illinois to have any sort of a chance, Ohio State has to have the ball deep in its own end time and time again and has to be stuck with long fields.

What Will Happen: Ohio State will have a tougher time than it might like. For all intents and purposes, this is the Illini's bowl game, and it'll play like it. The defense will rise up and keep it close for three quarters until the dam breaks; the offense won't be able to take advantage of any breaks and won't be able to pull off the upset.

CFN Prediction: Ohio State 37 … Illinois 23
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Ohio State -27.5 O/U: 52
Must Watch Rating (5 – The Man With The Iron Fists, 1 – Election coverage until Tuesday morning): 3