Illinois at Ohio State Capsules
Illinois (4-4, 1-3 Big Ten)
at No. 13 Ohio State (6-1, 3-0), 8:12 p.m. (ABC)
Line: Ohio State by 28 1/2
Series Record: Ohio State leads 65-30-4
WHAT’S AT STAKE
The Illini are coming off their biggest win in recent memory, a 28-24 home win over Minnesota last week. They have not won two Big Ten games in a row since 2011. Speaking of streaks, the Buckeyes can match the conference record for consecutive Big Ten wins (20, by Ohio State 2005-07) with a win.
Ohio State’s offense, which sputtered last week in a 31-24 double-overtime win at Penn State, against Illinois’ leaky defense. The Illini are giving up more than 34 points and 475 yards per game, although they came up big when most needed against the Golden Gophers. QB J.T. Barrett has a sore knee but is expected to play for the Buckeyes.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Illinois: QB Reilly O’Toole has stepped in for the injured Wes Lunt and has done an adequate job. RB Josh Ferguson, averaging just 65 yards a game on the ground, must come up big to allow the Illini to take some time off the clock.
Ohio State: DE Joey Bosa might just be the best defender in the Big Ten, with a league-best 11.5 tackles for loss including 8 sacks. He clinched the game last week with a sack on the final play. LB Joshua Perry and S Tyvis Powell are 1-2 in tackles and have been steady throughout.
FACTS & FIGURES
Illinois coach Tim Beckman, under fire in his third year, is a former Ohio State assistant under Jim Tressel and also served under Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer at Bowling Green. … Ohio State had four players take snaps from center and run with it in one series against Penn State last week. … The teams vie for “Illibuck,” a turtle (a real one in the early days, a wooden one now). The Illini haven’t owned the faux reptile since a stunning upset of an unbeaten and top-ranked Ohio State team in 2007. … Barrett has been responsible for at least three TDs in each of the last five games.