NCAA Football Picks: Illinois Fighting Illini vs Ohio State Buckeyes
Thursday, November 01, 2012
by Frank Martin
Ohio State Buckeyes is expected to have an easy time keeping its undefeated season alive when it hosts struggling Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday. The Buckeyes, the nation's only 9-0 team, aren't eligible for postseason play because of NCAA sanctions, but are sending a message that they appear to be the best team in the Big Ten - and one of the top teams in the nation.
Ohio State scored an impressive 35-23 victory at Penn State last week as Heisman Trophy candidate Braxton Miller excelled after getting knocked out of the game the week before. The Fighting Illini have lost five straight and have been outscored 194-62 during that span.
Illinois Fighting Illini (2-6, 0-4 Big Ten): The Fighting Illini will probably have to wait until next week (home against Minnesota) to have a realistic chance of snapping their 10-game conference losing streak. They appeared to have a chance against Indiana last week before the Hoosiers snapped their 11-game Big Ten slide with a 31-17 victory. A bright spot was sophomore Donovonn Young, who rushed for a career-high 124 yards against the nation's No. 109 rushing defense. Ohio State is No. 20, though, and Illinois has struggled on offense, averaging only 317.3 yards (109th). Junior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has completed 61.3 percent of his passes with only four touchdowns against five interceptions in six games.
Ohio State Buckeyes (9-0, 5-0): The Buckeyes, who are not eligible to receive votes in the USA Today poll, are No. 6 in the Associated Press rankings as they try for their first 10-0 start in five years. Miller, who was knocked out of Ohio State's 29-22 overtime victory over Purdue in the third quarter after a hard tackle, rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns last week. The sophomore has 1,093 yards, fifth in the country and second among quarterbacks (Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch, 1185), and leads Ohio State with 12 touchdowns. Running back Carlos Hyde (600 yards) has 10 TDs. The Buckeyes finish at Wisconsin and home against rival Michigan - not an easy finish but games Ohio State can certainly win.
1. Miller averages 121.4 rushing yards per game, well ahead of Heisman favorite Collin Klein of Kansas State (79.3).
2. Buckeyes DB Bradley Roby leads the Big Ten with 18 passes defended (two interceptions, 16 passes broken up).
3. Ohio State leads the series 64-30-4 and has won four straight, including 17-7 last season in Champaign. Illinois, though, has won three of the last five meetings in Columbus.
NCAA Football Prediction: Ohio State 49, Illinois 14.
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