College football beat writer Matt Daniels breaks down Saturday's Big Ten game at Memorial Stadium.
2 Nathan Scheelhaase 6-3 205 Sr. Kansas City, Mo.
5 Braxton Miller 6-2 215 Jr. Huber Heights, Ohio
Edge: Ohio State. Miller’s 15 touchdown passes compared with three interceptions is impressive. So are his 410 rushing yards. But his accuracy is really setting the dual-threat talent apart this fall. He has completed 72.5 percent of his passes. Scheelhaase, with 2,420 passing yards, is on track to have only the eighth 3,000-yard season in school history, but Miller is too dynamic.
6 Josh Ferguson 5-10 195 Soph. Naperville
34 Carlos Hyde 6-0 235 Sr. Naples, Fla.
Edge: Ohio State. Hyde missed the first three games of the season with a suspension but still has 701 rushing yards. Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown calls Hyde a combination of Indiana running backs Tevin Coleman and Stephen Houston, who combined for 365 rushing yards on 32 carries. Doubtful Hyde will approach those numbers, but he could come close.
9 Steve Hull 6-2 200 Sr. Cincinnati
8 Miles Osei 6-0 195 Sr. Mount Prospect
80 Spencer Harris 6-3 205 Sr. Greenwood, Ark.
9 Devin Smith 6-1 198 Jr. Massillon, Ohio
6 Evan Spencer 6-2 206 Jr. Vernon Hills
10 Corey Brown 6-0 190 Sr. Upper Darby, Pa.
Edge: Ohio State. Spencer, son of former Buckeyes running back Tim Spencer, made waves this week by proclaiming Ohio State would “wipe the field” with Alabama and Florida State. And this is from Ohio State’s third-best receiver. Brown (41 catches for 547 yards, eight touchdowns) and Smith (38 for 542, six TDs) are a potent 1-2 duo, while Hull is coming off the second-best receiving total by an Illinois wideout.
3 Jon Davis 6-3 240 Jr. Louisville, Ky.
86 Jeff Heuerman 6-6 252 Jr. Naples, Fla.
Edge: Ohio State. Quick. Name the Buckeyes’ leading receiver in their 56-0 blowout win two weeks ago at Purdue. Look up at who plays tight end for Ohio State and you’ll find the answer. Heuerman had 116 receiving yards on five catches. Davis and Matt LaCosse have solid numbers stretched across the length of the season but are more safety options for Illinois than downfield threats lately.
57 Austin Schmidt 6-6 285 Fr. Galena, Ohio
74 Michael Heitz 6-5 305 Jr. Vermont
52 Alex Hill 6-3 315 Jr. Slidell, La.
69 Ted Karras 6-4 300 Soph. Indianapolis
70 Corey Lewis 6-6 315 Sr. Cresco, Pa.
74 Jack Mewhort 6-6 308 Sr. Toledo, Ohio
78 Andrew Norwell 6-6 316 Sr. Cincinnati
71 Corey Linsley 6-3 297 Sr. Youngstown, Ohio
79 Marcus Hall 6-5 315 Sr. Cleveland
68 Taylor Decker 6-7 315 Soph. Vandalia, Ohio
Edge: Ohio State. Schmidt is a true freshman protecting Scheelhaase’s blind side against a defense with 26 sacks. Good luck. Norwell is the younger brother of former Illinois defensive tackle Chris Norwell. He and Mewhort, the Buckeyes’ formidable left side of the line, each have started the last 34 games for Ohio State.
59 Tim Kynard 6-3 270 Sr. Toledo, Ohio
93 Teko Powell 6-3 295 Soph. Miami
44 Austin Teitsma 6-2 290 Jr. Glen Ellyn
55 Houston Bates 6-3 250 Jr. Covington, La.
97 Joey Bosa 6-6 275 Fr. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
51 Joel Hale 6-4 310 Jr. Greenwood, Ind.
63 Michael Bennett 6-3 285 Jr. Centerville, Ohio
8 Noah Spence 6-3 252 Soph. Harrisburg, Pa.
Edge: Ohio State. Spence is a disruptive force in the backfield. Almost a third of his 35 tackles have been for loss, including a team-high 6.5 sacks. Bennett and Bosa have a combined five sacks and are big, physical linemen who help teams win Big Ten titles. Powell has given a boost to the Illinois defensive line, but this unit is well below Ohio State’s standards.
45 Jonathan Brown 6-1 230 Sr. Memphis, Tenn.
43 Mason Monheim 6-1 235 Soph. Orrville, Ohio
34 Mike Svetina 6-2 230 Soph. Brunswick, Ohio
2 Ryan Shazier 6-2 230 Jr. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
14 Curtis Grant 6-3 243 Jr. Richmond, Va.
37 Joshua Perry 6-4 246 Soph. Galena, Ohio
Edge: Ohio State. Shazier is one of the premier defenders in not just the Big Ten but the country. He’s a future NFL player. Brown fits that description, too, and his four sacks this year lead Illinois in that department. Grant and Perry are more skilled than Monheim and Svetina, but Monheim is capable of having a double-digit tackle game.
2 V’Angelo Bentley 5-10 190 Soph. Cleveland
9 Earnest Thomas 6-2 210 Jr. Orchard Lake, Mich.
21 Zane Petty 6-1 190 Jr. Corning, Calif.
27 Eaton Spence 6-0 185 Soph. Belle Glade, Fla.
1 Bradley Roby 5-11 192 Jr. Suwanee, Ga.
3 Corey Brown 6-1 203 Sr. Monroeville, Pa.
4 C.J. Barnett 6-1 204 Sr. Dayton, Ohio
12 Doran Grant 5-11 191 Jr. Akron, Ohio
Edge: Ohio State. Indiana picked on Illinois’ true freshman cornerbacks Darius Mosely and Caleb Day. If they’re in the game again, expect Ohio State to do the same. The starting secondary for Ohio State has combined for seven interceptions, seven more than the starters Illinois will trot out Saturday.
17 Taylor Zalewski (K, KO) 6-3 220 Soph. Orland Park
18 Justin DuVernois (P) 6-1 190 Jr. Plantation, Fla.
54 Zach Hirth (LS) 6-4 220 Fr. Eureka, Mo.
86 Tim Russell (Holder) 6-6 235 Sr. St. Charles
2 V’Angelo Bentley (KR, PR) 5-10 190 Soph. Cleveland
8 Miles Osei (KR, PR) 6-0 200 Sr. Mount Prospect
24 Drew Basil (K, KO) 6-2 212 Sr. Chillicothe, Ohio
95 Cameron Johnston (P) 5-11 190 Fr. Geelong, Australia
56 George Makridis (LS) 6-2 234 Sr. Warren, Ohio
13 Kenny Guiton (Holder) 6-3 208 Sr. Houston
2 Jordan Hall (KR, PR) 5-9 191 Sr. Jeannette, Pa.
1 Dontre Wilson (KR) 5-10 180 Fr. DeSoto, Texas
10 Corey Brown (PR) 6-0 190 Sr. Upper Darby, Pa.
Edge: Ohio State. Anything beyond 40 yards and Zalewski becomes shaky. DuVernois has a good chance to test his leg out frequently if Illinois’ offense can’t get on track. The return game for Illinois has become stagnant. Wilson is the returner to watch for the Buckeyes, while Basil has made all seven of his field goals, and Johnston is a Ray Guy Award semifinalist.
Tim Beckman At UI (5-16) Overall (26-32)
Urban Meyer At Ohio State (21-0) Overall (125-23)
Edge: Ohio State. Meyer is the hottest coach in the country right now. And he has a chance Saturday to equal Woody Hayes if he can lead the Buckeyes to their 22nd straight win. Beckman, on the other hand, is trying to salvage the season and lift what little confidence some Illinois fans have in him.
Prediction: Ohio State 59, Illinois 17
Fans not adorned in Scarlet and Gray might wish for a running clock Saturday afternoon. This has all the makings of a lopsided loss for the Illini. The fast-fading bowl hopes for Illinois are officially nonexistent by halftime. Only some late touchdowns by Illinois help this year’s game from becoming the worst loss in series history by the Illini. (N-G record: 7-2)