UI-Ohio State: 5 keys

UI-Ohio State: 5 keys

Bob Asmussen's breakdown of Saturday's Ohio State-Illinois game:

1

Will Braxton Miller be effective?

A lot will depend on his health. And reports out of Columbus from early in the week indicated he had recovered quickly from a sprained ankle suffered against Nebraska. He is going through the usual freshman adjustment to college football. The passes aren't as accurate as they will be later in his career. But he can run and move the ball down the field. Without Miller, Ohio State's chances to win are greatly reduced.

2

Can the Buckeyes slow A.J. Jenkins?

Not if they play the same kind of defense as Northwestern and Indiana, who seemed to ignore the Big Ten's leading receiver. Don't be surprised if the Illini go after cornerback Bradley Roby, who said earlier this week that Jenkins isn't "anything special." The Ohio State secondary is on the younger side, which should work to Illinois' advantage. And Jenkins has a way of finding the holes in the defense. And Nathan Scheelhaase has a way of getting him the ball.

3

Will the stadium stripes look like stripes?

Yes. Mostly. There are going to be dots of red in certain sections, though the Buckeyes fans don't figure to travel in as great of numbers as they have in the past. And some of the Illinois fans aren't going to get the message or forget, leaving some orange spots among the blue. But if 75 percent follow the rules, it will look pretty cool. A suggestion for the next time Illinois tries this promotion: provide the appropriately colored T-shirts for the section. Put a sponsors name on it. That will make it much easier.

4

Which freshman has the biggest game for Illinois?

Donovonn Young grew up in Texas, but sure seems to know a lot about Ohio State football. So, we'll go with the tailback. Against a solid Buckeyes defense, it will take more than one Illinois runner to crack the code. Jason Ford will get the early carries, but Young and senior Troy Pollard will play early. Young seems to be getting better each week. And the ball exchange issues certainly were given heavy attention during practice.

5

Does Illinois win the turnover battle?

It will if it wants to win the game. You can get away with negative turnover margin against Northwestern and Western Michigan. But it won't work against the Buckeyes, who will turn Illinois errors into points. Ohio State is a desperate team fighting to stay above .500 after an awful spring and summer. Any breaks the Buckeyes are given will become a problem. Ohio State knows it didn't close the deal last week, partly because of its own turnovers. Lesson learned.

Categories (3):Illini Sports, Football, Sports

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Smackey wrote on October 14, 2011 at 3:10 pm

1. Illini defense. I expect loads of pressure and different looks from the D with the goal of forcing Miller in making bad decisions. Needs to be a physical game on D aimed at roughing up Miller (within the rules).

2. Fast start by Illini. Seems this club starts games slowly - down 10-0 to IU . Points, especially a TD on the opening drive can set the tone for the day.

3. Special Teams need to show improvement.

4. Intangibles. NS has a will to win. Play with emotion (but no knees to the groin). Have fun on the field. Want to WIN.

5. OSU will want to slow the game down - run - ball control. Along with #2 - Illini needs to set the tone score early.

mypaul4 wrote on October 15, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I agree with all your pre-game keys to the game. You were correct on all five. Lost the turnover battle and never forced the tempo on offense until halfway through the fourth quarter. All things considered the defense was solid again. Some very questionable coaching decisions and time management issues. Lets bounce back next week Illini!!!!