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(3) Ohio State (9-0) at Illinois (3-6)



Saturday, November 16, 12 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Frank Haynes, Senior College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: The Illinois Fighting Illini have lost 19 consecutive Big Ten Conference bouts, and putting an end to that dubious streak will be difficult this Saturday as the team plays host to the third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.

This bout marks the 100th meeting between Ohio State and Illinois, with the Illibuck Trophy on the line. The Buckeyes owns a commanding 64-30-4 advantage in the series (the 2010 game was vacated), and they have officially won seven of the last eight meetings.

Ohio State is undefeated and brings the nation's longest winning streak into this contest (21 games). The Buckeyes have never lost with Urban Meyer as their head coach, and they were idle last weekend. Their next victory will match the longest win streak in school history (1967-69).

Illinois dropped a 52-35 decision at Indiana last weekend, marking the fifth straight loss for a club that had won three of its first four to open the campaign. The Illini need to win out to qualify for a bowl game, and the team's last two games are at Purdue, and home versus Northwestern.

UI head coach Tim Beckman is certainly aware of the challenge his team faces this week, but knows his guys will put forth the kind of effort that will make the university and their supporters proud.

"It all starts out with the Ohio State Buckeyes and we all know what they're all about and the team is rated in the top five in the country in all categories and they're doing an exceptional job, but our seniors are fighting and ready to get back home and play."

Ohio State is indeed getting it done in all phases of the game this season, with the offense generating 48.2 points and 530.9 yards per game -- both of which lead the conference. Braxton Miller (108-of-149, 1,316 yards, 15 TDs, three INTs) came into the campaign as a serious contender to win the Heisman Trophy, but injuries sidelined him for a bit and his numbers have been hampered as a result. Still, there is no denying his talent and leadership, and the Buckeyes have responded by continuing to pile up the wins.

Miller, who can also burn you with his legs (410 yards, two TDs), isn't the only skilled player on the OSU offense, as Carlos Hyde (96 carries, 701 yard, seven TDs), Jordan Hall (79 carries, 519 yards, eight TDs), Corey Brown (41 rec., 547 yards, eight TDs) and Devin Smith (38 rec., 542 yards, six TDs) are all lethal with the ball in their hands. Even backup QB Kenny Guiton (75- of-108, 749 yards, 14 TDs, two INTs; 37 carries, 307 yards, five TDs) has gotten it done when the opportunities were there. Averaging 301.1 ypg on the ground, Ohio State ranks first in the Big Ten in that category as well.

The Buckeyes come into this clash ranked third in the league in both scoring defense (17.0 ppg) and total defense (311.7 ypg), and they have been particularly strong against the run (88.2 ypg, three TDs). From a big-play perspective, OSU sits second in the conference in sacks (26), while ranking first in turnover margin (+9).

Ryan Shazier is having an All-Big Ten-caliber season from his linebacker spot, logging a team-high 73 tackles, which includes 12 TFL and four sacks, and he also leads the club with five QB Hurries. Noah Spence paces the Buckeyes' sack attack with six, while Doran Grant has three picks and is tied with Bradley Roby for the most passes defended with 10.

The pass-catch duo of Nathan Scheelhaase and Steve Hull had a field day in the Fighting Illini's recent loss to Indiana, the former completing 38-of-57 passes for 450 yards and two TDs, both of which went to the latter, who pulled down nine balls for 224 yards. Scheelhaase also scored on the ground, collecting 45 yards on nine carries, while Josh Ferguson led the Illinois rushing attack with 90 yards and a TD on 16 totes.

The Hoosiers ran the ball all over the Illinois defense last weekend, amassing 371 yards and four TDs. The Illini came up with a pair of turnovers and were credited with three sacks, with Earnest Thomas III leading the way with nine tackles (eight solo) and a forced fumble. Corey Lewis pounced on a loose ball in the end zone to bring the Illini to within three points (38-35) early in the fourth quarter, but Indiana scored the final 17 points to put the game away.

Illinois is averaging just shy of 30 ppg, doing so primarily on the strength of a passing attack that generates 288.9 ypg, which ranks as the second-best figure in the conference. Scheelhaase sits atop the league with 2,420 passing yards, and he has the best completion percentage (.652) of any Big Ten signal caller other than Miller.

Ferguson is a multi-purpose back, capable of doing damage in a variety of ways. He currently paces the team's ground assault with 485 yards and four TDs, while also serving as its top pass catcher with 37 grabs for 783 yards and four scores.

As well as the offense has performed for most of the season, the same can not be said of the Illinois defense, which ranks 10th or worse in the league in scoring yield (34.7 ppg), run defense (239.6 ypg), pass defense (243.1 ypg) and total defense (482.7 ypg). Despite those poor numbers, there are some talented players on the UI defense, notably Jonathan Brown (88 tackles, 10.5 TFL, four sacks, one INT), Thomas III (76 tackles, four PBU, three FF) and Mason Monheim (74 tackles, 4.5 TFL, one sack).

A lack of big plays on the defensive side of the ball has really hurt the Illini, as they have only two interceptions and 11 sacks -- both ranking as the worst figures in the conference.

Despite Illinois's sub par record, OSU's Meyer knows his team needs to stay focused on the task at hand.

"We've got to be prepared for getting Illinois's best shot. They've played some pretty good football as of late. Certainly offensively, the quarterback is leading the league in throwing. They took Penn State to overtime and put up a lot of points I think 600 yards on us last game."

Try as they might, the Illini are hoping what little fight they have in them will keep this game close. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes are on a mission and there is little chance of them faltering here.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio State 49, Illinois 17

11/14 16:01:11 ET

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Local
Final
EDM 6
CAR 3
12:30pm Today
UVA
UNC
2:00pm Today
NCCU
SAVST
 
Final
SFG 2
KAN 3
8:07pm Tonight
SFG
KAN
 
Final
ORL 92
DAL 117
Final
TOR 83
NYK 80
Final
MEM 98
MIA 104
Final
CHI 112
MIN 113
Final
HOU 96
SAN 87
Final
UTA 100
PHO 105
Final
LAL 92
SAC 93
Final
GSW 119
DEN 112
Final
LAC 89
POR 99
Final
CIN 34
SFLA 17
Final
SALABAMA 27
TROY 13
Final
BSU 55
BYU 30
Final
CAL 41
OREG 59
12:00pm Today
WISC
MD
12:00pm Today
SMU
MEM
12:00pm Today
ILL
MINN
12:00pm Today
RICE
UNT
12:00pm Today
NEB
RUTG
12:00pm Today
KST
TEX
12:00pm Today
ARK
UAB
12:30pm Today
UVA
UNC
1:00pm Today
EMICH
NILL
1:00pm Today
NAVY
SJST
2:00pm Today
BST
AKR
2:00pm Today
GASTATE
GASO
2:00pm Today
TOL
UMASS
2:00pm Today
WMICH
OHIO
2:00pm Today
COL
UCLA
2:30pm Today
UMO
KSU
3:30pm Today
WAKE
BC
3:30pm Today
BUF
CMICH
3:30pm Today
MARS
FATL
3:30pm Today
PITT
GT
3:30pm Today
SMISS
LATU
3:30pm Today
MSU
MICH
3:30pm Today
KENT
MSST
3:30pm Today
STAN
ORST
3:30pm Today
TCU
TTU
3:30pm Today
OKST
WVU
4:00pm Today
WKENT
ODU
4:00pm Today
UTST
UNLV
4:00pm Today
MIZZ
VANDY
5:00pm Tonight
UCF
TEMPL
6:00pm Tonight
WASU
ARZ
7:00pm Tonight
CLEM
SYR
7:00pm Tonight
LAMON
TXST
7:00pm Tonight
TXSANANTO
UTEP
7:00pm Tonight
COLST
WYO
7:15pm Tonight
LSU
MISS
7:30pm Tonight
TENN
ALA
7:30pm Tonight
AUB
SCAR
8:00pm Tonight
PSU
OSU
10:00pm Tonight
UTAH
USC
10:45pm Tonight
WASH
ARST
11:59pm Tonight
HAW
NEV
Final
NJD 2
DAL 3
Final
WIN 2
TAM 4
Final
COL 7
VAN 3
Final
EDM 6
CAR 3
Final
ANA 4
CLB 1
4:00pm Today
SJS
BUF
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
BOS
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
DAL
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
DET
 
7:00pm Tonight
OTT
NJD
 
7:00pm Tonight
MON
NYR
 
8:00pm Tonight
STL
CHI
 
8:00pm Tonight
NAS
PIT
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
TAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARI
FLA
 
10:00pm Tonight
CAL
WAS
 
2:00pm Today
NCCU
SAVST