No. 8 Ohio State tries not to look past struggling Illinois
Illinois (2-8, 0-7 Big Ten) at No. 8 Ohio State (8-2, 6-1, CFP No. 9), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC).
Line: Ohio State by 41.
Series record: 67-30-4.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
A win for Ohio State coupled with a Wisconsin victory over Michigan will clinch the Big Ten East title for the Buckeyes. With the regular-season finale with Michigan next week and likely a Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin the week after, Ohio State will try not to look past Illinois, the worst team in the conference. The last game at Ohio Stadium for a group of five-year seniors, including quarterback J.T. Barrett and center Billy Price.
Ohio State defense vs. Illinois QB Jeff George Jr. The Buckeyes’ deep, talented D-line specializes in terrorizing quarterbacks. The team had a season-high six sacks last week. If George — son of former NFL quarterback Jeff George — gets time to pass, he might have trouble finding open receivers. George has thrown for 1,273 yards and seven touchdowns in seven games since taking over the starting job last month.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ohio State: RB Mike Weber ran for 162 yards on just nine carries, including touchdown runs of 47 and 82 yards against Michigan State.
Illinois: RB Kendrick Foster. One of just 10 seniors on the roster, Foster lost his starting job earlier in the season but is back at the No. 1 spot because of injuries to Ra’Von Bonner and Mike Epstein. Foster has 222 yards and a touchdown in the past three games.
FACTS & FIGURES
Illinois has played 22 true freshmen this season, the most in the nation. ... Ohio State LB Jerome Baker is expected to play after missing last week’s game with an injury. LB Dante Booker, who also missed the game with an injury, is questionable. ... Coach Urban Meyer says there are “conversations” about moving Chris Worley back to outside linebacker and keeping Tuf Borland in the middle. Worley played outside last season, but was moved to MLB before this season. ... CB Damon Arnette, who left Saturday’s game in the second quarter with a deep thigh bruise, is probable for Saturday. ... The next touchdown pass from Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett will be the 100th of his career. ... Illinois ranks seventh in the Big Ten in passing yards allowed.
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