With each passing day, we are getting closer and closer to Illinois football in 2014. Even though the Fighting Illini improved their overall record in 2013, fans are just as anxious leading into the 2014 campaign. This is because the Orange & Blue are close to returning to the postseason, and many fans want to see the Illini earn a bowl bid in 2014.
The next game on our schedule preview for the 2014 season is the Illini’s trip to Columbus, Ohio for a match-up with the Big Ten favorite, Ohio State.
Player to Watch: RB/WR Curtis Samuel
In the same way that Mike Dudek has been impressing Illini fans this offseason, Curtis Samuel is doing the same exact thing for Buckeye fans. According to Pete Thamel of SI.com, the Buckeye coaches see Samuel “as a game-breaker they can use creatively out of the backfield.” Although he is a different style of back than last year’s Carlos Hyde, the true freshman could hurt teams this season with his speed out of the backfield on shovel/swing pass type plays. Nationally, many are comparing his ability on shovel/swing passes to Percy Harvin, but Illini Nation could compare it to their own running back Josh Ferguson.
Prediction: Ohio State 60 – Illinois 35
This will be an ugly game for Illini faithful to watch this season. Ohio State is one of the heavy favorites to make the new college football playoff, and they will be out to prove themselves in 2014. Wes Lunt will be able to get the Illini offense going, but the Illini defense will have a very tough time against the speed of the Buckeye offense. Braxton Miller and the Ohio State offense will run all over Illinois’ defense (again) in 2014.
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