Nov. 13, 2017
#8 Ohio State vs. Illinois
Saturday, November 18th, 2017, 3:30 p.m. ET
Ohio Stadium (104,955), Columbus, Ohio
Steve Levy (Play-By-Play)
Brian Griese (Analyst)
Todd McShay (Sideline)
RADIO: WBNS (97.1 The Fan). The Urban Meyer pregame show airs 30 minutes prior to kickoff. Paul Keels will call the action with former Buckeye Jim Lachey and Matt Andrews on the sidelines.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State closes out the home portion of its 2017 schedule when it welcomes in Illinois for a 3:30 kickoff on Saturday at Ohio Stadium. ABC will broadcast the game with Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Todd McShay calling the game.
The Buckeyes got back on the winning track last Saturday against No. 12 Michigan State, jumping out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead and never looking back on their way to a 48-3 triumph. The offense was led by running backs Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins, who each eclipsed 100 yards on the ground. Dobbins carried 18 times for 124 yards and had a receiving TD while Weber added a team-high 162 yards on nine carries with touchdown runs of 82 and 47 yards, respectively. Weber was named co-Big Ten offensive player of the week for his efforts. Quarterback J.T. Barrett accounted for four touchdowns (two throwing, two rushing).
Ohio State’s defense generated a season-high six sacks and limited Michigan State to less than 200 yards of total offense. Tuf Borland led with a team-high 11 tackles while Damon Arnette had an interception and fumble recovery in the first half.
The Buckeyes and Illini face each other for the first time in Columbus since 2014. Ohio State leads the all-time series, 67-30-4, in a matchup that dates back to 1902. Ohio State has won seven consecutive in the series.
Ohio State is 20-2 in the month of November under Urban Meyer. In last Saturday’s win over Michigan State,J.T. Barrett became No. 2 on the all-time Big Ten total yardagelist. He passed Minnesota’s Adam Weber and is 717 yards shy of DrewBrees’ record (12,692 yards). From 1919 through 1933, the OhioState-Illinois game was the final contest of the regular season. In1935, Michigan became Ohio State’s final opponent of the regularseason and has been so ever since. Ohio State is the only school inthe nation to not allow a punt return this season. J.K. Dobbins is fifth nationally with a 7.5 yards-per-carryaverage. Playing without two starting linebackers, Ohio State’slinebacker trio of Tuf Borland, Chris Worley and Malik Harrison combined for 22 tackles, four tackles-for-lossand three sacks last week against Michigan State. After the openingdrive of the game, the Buckeyes’ defense registered four straightthree-and-outs in the first half and limited the Spartans to theirlowest yardage output of the season. Ohio State’s special teamskicked the ball off nine times last Saturday and six of themresulted in Michigan State starting its ensuing drive at or insidethe 25 yard line.
Illinois brings a 2-8 record into Saturday’s contest, most recently falling to Indiana, 24-14, in Champaign. The Illini started out their 2017 with consecutive wins, toping Ball State, 24-21, and Western Kentucky, 20-7, but have since dropped eight straight.
The Illini lead the nation with 22 true freshmen who have played this year. They also have 16 true freshmen (eight on offense, eight on defense) who have at least one start to their credit, the most in the country. Quarterback Jeff George Jr. took over the starting duties in October and has thrown for 1,273 yards and seven touchdowns in seven games. His top target is Ricky Smalling, who has 28 catches for a team-high 488 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Kendrick Foster has played in all 10 games with 67 carries for 285 yards and one TD.
On defense, Illinois ranks No. 44 nationally and No. 7 in the Big Ten in passing yards allowed at just over 200 per game. DelShawn Phillips had a team-leading 72 tackles to go along with four TFL and two pass breakups. Bennett Williams, one of the 16 true freshmen who has started this year, leads the team with two interceptions and also had 52 tackles and 1.5 TFL. He’s the first Illini true freshman safety to start a season opener since at least 1980.