Happy Halloween TCR Nation! We hope you all enjoy your day and celebrate responsibly with friends and family. Before we begin with the results of the simulation, let's take a look at one of the great moments in Illini Football that happened to take place on Halloween. It was 2009, and Illinois was 1-6. The team was loaded with NFL prospects and was under performing. Students in the north endzone were wearing bags on their heads that said "Fire Zook" and things weren't looking good for the program.
Yet, there was an odd sense of optimism as the Michigan Wolverines rolled into town on Halloween and the fans packed into Memorial Stadium hoping to see the Illini win. After a close first half (and a REALLY fun halftime show from the MI), Michigan was given the ball to start the second half. Terry Hawthorne saved a touchdown after the play was initially called a touchdown, and the defense mounted a goal-line stand to give our offense the ball. 99 yards later, touchdown Illinois. Final score - Illinois 38 ~ Michigan 13.
Here we are 5 years later, and the Illini find themselves needed another big win to keep their postseason hopes alive. Would the simulation predict success, or would the Illini get spooked and scared in Columbus?
The game would start with an early J.T. Barrett drive of excellence as he would march the Buckeyes down the field 72 yards for an opening drive touchdown. Early on, the Illini offense moved the ball well as Reilly O'Toole and Josh Ferguson ran for 5 first downs in their first possession. Tack on a 34 yd field goal from David Reisner, and the Buckeyes had a 7-3 lead after the first quarter.
Second quarter, things started to get rough as the Buckeyes would get 2 touchdowns in as many drives. Both were passing plays to Evan Spencer from 8 and 12 yards, and the Ohio State Buckeyes lead the Illini 21-3 midway through the second quarter. Reilly was able to get the Illini into the redzone for the second time in the game, but a fumble by Ferguson gave the Buckeyes the ball back with 2:34 left. Barrett and the offense ran every second off the clock, and Sean Nuernberger punched a 28 yd field goal through the uprights.
Halftime Score: ILLINI ~ 3 Ohio St ~ 24
The Illini would get the ball after halftime, and with some quick slants to Mike Dudek and Geronimo Allison, the offense moved the ball down the field like clockwork. 2 runs from Josh Ferguson inside the 5 yard line and the Illini found the endzone for the first time in the game. That still didn't stop the Buckeyes as Barrett would again move the ball with his arm and his legs into the endzone for yet another touchdown. End of the third quarter, and the score was 35-10 OSU.
5 field goals would round out the the scoring in the last quarter of play. Reisner hit from 33, 41, and 24 yards and Nuernberger would tack on field goals from 44 and 39 yards.
Overall the Buckeyes took control from the start, and the Illini would fall in the end (but still cover the spread!)