Matchup to Watch: James Laurinaitis vs. Illinois offense

In Illinois’ 95th meeting with Ohio State, the Buckeyes will look to their senior linebacker to tackle a tough matchup with the Illini offense.

James Laurinaitis currently has 346 tackles in his collegiate career, putting him seventh in Ohio State history.

The two-time All American, who had 18 tackles in the 2007 BCS title game against LSU, will most likely be a first round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Laurinaitis comes from an active family, as his father was a popular professional wrestler known as “the Animal” of the Legion of Doom and his younger sister, Jessica, plays hockey.

Meanwhile, the Illini offense will try to dash the Buckeyes’ conference title hopes. The unit is first in the Big Ten in passing yards and total offense and second in scoring offense.

Quarterback Juice Williams has led the Illini through an up-and-down season, and he can break the Illinois season total offense record with 326 yards in his final two games.

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When Illinois upset then-No. 1 Ohio State last November, Laurinaitis recorded a total of 12 tackles.

But his efforts weren’t enough, as Williams led the Illini to 28 points in Columbus, Ohio.

Williams was able to put up more points against a tough Buckeye defense than most teams last season, but Saturday head coach Jim Tressel will count on his senior leader to play a different game.

By Stuart Lieberman