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Illinois v.s. Ohio State: Five Things to Watch For

Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

1. Can the Illinois defense finally find a way to stop their opponent’s run game? In every single Big Ten game this season, Illinois has allowed their opponent’s running back to run for over 100 yards with two of those backs going for over 200 yards. This weekend’s challenge will come in the form of Carlos Hyde. Hyde is currently ninth in the conference when it comes to rushing yards (701) and is tied for second in yards per attempts (7.3). As I’ve said all week, if the Illini cannot stop the run, then they will be in for a long day on Saturday.

2. Right now, it seems that the Illinois offense is carrying the team. In the team’s last lost to Indiana, Bill Cubit’s offense was able to put up 35 points, but that wasn’t able to beat the Hoosiers’ 52 points. When asked about this at his press conference, head coach Tim Beckman said, ”we’re a family and we all understand that offensively, defensively there was a situation where they [Indiana] were able to capture three touchdowns on us in six plays it’s disheartening, it’s missing tackles, or over running plays.” This is all fine and dandy, but this shouldn’t put Illini Nation at ease. Some fans might have a problem with a “defensive minded” head coach giving up 50+ points to a 3-5 football team.

3. Earlier this week, Buckeye wide receiver Evan Spencer told the media that OSU would “wipe the floor” with either #1 Alabama or #2 Florida State in the BCS National Championship. Head coach Urban Meyer has come out and said that he does not approve of the young WRs comments. He also stated that Spencer would “not be talking to the media for a while.” It will be interesting to see if Meyer also will dock Spencer some playing time as well to get his point across.

4. Illinois is continue their 2013 season without senior wide receiver Ryan Lankford. During the Illini’s past two games, wide receivers Spencer Harris and Steve Hull have received most of the attention from Scheelhaase. Harris led the team when it came to receiving in the loss to Penn State while Hull led the team in the loss to Indiana. Expect both Harris and Hull to receive a ton of the targets this week against OSU. Because Illinois could see themselves in a hole early, Nathan Scheelhaase might need to throw the ball more than Bill Cubit might have planned.

5. Head coach Tim Beckman will continue his search for his first career Big Ten victory. All time, Backman is 0-3 against the Buckeyes and 0-1 since taking over as head coach of the Fighting Illini. Yes, it is true that Illinois has shocked OSU in the past (2007 game). However, an upset seems HIGHLY unlikely in this one.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @RickyWidmer.

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Topics: Carlos Hyde, Football, Illinois Fighting Illini, Nathan Scheelhaase, Ohio State Buckeyes, Spencer Harris, Steve Hull

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