Keys to the game: Illinois vs. Ohio State

 

 

Illinois

Don’t be intimidated

Illinois is traveling to arguably the most hostile playing environment in the entire country. Even though Ohio State’s crowd will exceed 100,000 people, the Illini are likely the toughest opponent the Buckeyes have played this season.

Carry over last week’s momentum

All three phases, especially the offense, played superbly last weekend in Minnesota. Against the stout Ohio State defense and its explosive offense, the Illini will need all the momentum they can muster. If Illinois’ passing game can be as effective as it was against Minnesota – a colossal if – the Illini have a good shot this Saturday.

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Ohio State

Stick to your guns

There’s a reason that the Buckeyes are undefeated. Both the Buckeye defense and offense have been dominant this year so far. Between the emergence of Todd Boeckman, Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline, the Buckeye offense has reloaded a phase of the game that lost many of its key pieces from last season’s BCS National Championship Game team.

Succeed where Minnesota didn’t

Minnesota tried to force Illinois’ Juice Williams to make plays with his arm by stopping the run. However, Williams made plays and the Gophers didn’t stop the run. Granted that Ohio State’s defense is much, much better than Minnesota’s, the Buckeyes will still need to be able to force the pass against the Illinois offense.

History

Saturday’s game is the 94th meeting between Illinois and Ohio State. The Buckeyes own a 60-29-4 advantage in the series that began in 1902. The two schools played every year from 1914 to 2002. The winner of the game is traditionally awarded the Illibuck trophy – a wooden turtle. The tradition started in 1925 with the passing of a live turtle between the schools.