2020 Game Preview: Ohio State vs Illinois
Ohio State enters this game as the 4th ranked team in the College Football Playoff, who revealed their first poll of the season on Tuesday night, and they fall right behind Alabama, Notre Dame, and Clemson. The committee admitted to thinking Ohio State has a prolific offense, and they will be watching the defense, which gave up nearly 500 yards passing last week against Indiana, who is now ranked 12th in the CFP poll. All of this being said, the Buckeyes know what needs to be worked on, and as long as they win out, they are in a good position to making the College Football Playoff for the second year in a row.
As of Wednesday, Ohio State held a walk through practice, which is not their normal practice routine based on medical concerns according to Buckeye Scoop, so we will see that this will mean for the game. The Buckeyes have already had 1 game cancelled due to COVID, and can only afford to miss 1 more before being eliminated from representing the Big Ten East in the Big Ten Championship Game.
With the adjust schedule, the Buckeyes are used to playing a different rival on the game after Thanksgiving, but are fortunately getting another opportunity to play for the Illibuck, and defend their hold on the wooden turtle. The Buckeyes are currently on a 8 game win streak in the series and lead overall 68-30-4. The last time these two teams played was in 2017 and the Buckeyes won 52-14.
This game will be played on FS1 at noon, and fans should see some familiar faces calling the game with Joel Klatt and Gus Johnson. This will be the third game this season Ohio State has had this crew call their game, and will most likely have them call The Game in two weeks from Saturday.
Head Coach: Lovie Smith
2020 Record: 2-3
Location: Champaign, IL
Conference: Big Ten
Ohio State Preview: The coaching staff might feel a little more optimistic about the defensive concerns than the fans did after Saturday, and hopefully they do get them fixed in the next 3-4 games, before seriously being challenged again in the College Football Playoff. There is still time to get over those issues, and we are all hoping the Buckeyes are able to get it done.
Justin Fields did not have his typical gam on Saturday either, but is still completing nearly 80% of his passes. He is 90 of 113 for 1208 yards, to go along with 13 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He had a much bigger running game on Saturday too, bring up his rushing total now to 135 yards on 42 carries and 3 touchdowns. Hopefully this game is one where he can sit back and pass, and get back to his normal self.
Master Teague had over 160 yards rushing last week, and now sits at 380 yards on 73 carries and 6 touchdowns. Trey Sermon also had some good runs, and brings his totals up to 232 yards on 45 carries.
Garrett Wilson has been playing like an All-American through 4 games this season and has 513 yeards on 31 catches and 4 touchdowns so far. He had had 4 straight 100 yard receiving games. Chris Olave also broke 100 yards last week, and now has 389 yards on 26 catches and 4 touchdowns.
Illinois Preview: Illinois started the season with 3 straight loses, and now are on a 2 game winning streak. The are currently 6th in the Big Ten West, and their two wins are against Rutgers and Nebraska. Lovie Smith has confidence in his team though, and has proven that he can upset a team, like they were able to do against Wisconsin last year. It might take a lot more though to try and win against the Buckeyes.
Brandon Peters will get the starting spot nod at quarterback. He is 26 of 44 for 292 yards and a touchdown, after playing back up to Coran Taylor. Peters also has 111 yards on 15 carries and touchdown on the ground, so he can be a running threat.
Chase Brown is the lead running back with 357 yards on 61 carries, and 2 touchdowns. Mike Epstein is the second running back on their running back tandem, and he has 338 yards on 55 carried and 2 touchdowns. Their rushing offense is one of the best in the country.
Josh Imatorbhebhe leads all receivers with 215 yards on 15 catches and 2 touchdowns. Tight End Daniel Barker is the second leading catcher with 12 receptions for 174 yards. Brian Hightower also is involved with the passing game, and has 141 yards on 7 receptions and 1 touchdown.
Buckeye Spotlight: Master Teague. Depending on the weather, there might be a heavy emphasis on the run game with week, and with his performance last week against Indiana, he should be the lead back for the Scarlet and Gray.
Fighting Illini Spotlight: Brandon Peters. The Michigan transfer will start for the Fighting Illini after winning last week against Nebraska. Dont think though that he has Ohio State in a higher regard because of his Michigan ties, because he stated this week to to him, “it’s another game.”
Water Cooler Stat of the Game: 5. Chris Carter is the only receiver in Ohio State history to have recorded 5 straight 100 yard receiving games, and Garrett Wilson is at the cusp of tying it. If he ties it this week, he will have a chance to break it next week against Michigan State, and mark his legacy in the rich receiver history.
Prediction: Illinois is on a two game win streak, and is looking for a third with the upset in mind. They were able to beat Wisconsin last year at home, but Ohio State is a different animal to try and contain than the Badgers were last season. Give credit to Lovie Smith, who seems to have the support around him, but after last weeks game, and know what is at stake, the Buckeyes will be focused in this game, and look to take care of business. Justin Fields will revert back to his normal efficient standard with the passing game, and the tandem of Teague and Sermon should keep the Illini defense honest. This is a good game to work on trying to finish, and hopefully the Buckeyes will get to play more of their backups in this game in the second half.
Ohio State 56 – Illinois 10