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TCR Staff Predictions: Illinois vs. No. 4 Ohio State

The Illini welcome a team looking to make the CFP to CU.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 14 Illinois at Rutgers Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tristen Kissack: 52, Illinois 17

I have numerous questions about why this game is actually happening with indications pointing toward increasing COVID-19 cases on the Ohio State team. BUT I can’t see any potential absences greatly altering the outcome of this one if it does indeed get played. 2005 basketball is back, but 2007 football isn’t.

Quentin Wetzel: Ohio State 49, Illinois 24

I have no idea how good Illinois football is. I could be convinced that the Illini are a top five team in the Big Ten. I could also be convinced that they are one of the two worst. I just don’t know. When evaluating teams, I always try to use my head instead of my gut. But right now, my head can’t make sense of this team. So I’m forced to rely on my gut, and my gut feeling is that Illinois is… good? Regardless, we won’t really get to find out for another week. Even if the Illini are actually good, they will still probably lose to Ohio State. But that’s the fun thing about playing the Buckeyes: there are no expectations. It would take a minor miracle to beat OSU on Saturday, but in 2020, anything is possible.

Michael Berns: Ohio State 38, Illinois 17

I wrote it in the scouting report — this Buckeye offense has no weaknesses. None. The Illini haven’t looked that great against the pass, and while Justin Fields is coming off a 3 interception game versus Indiana, it’s a tall order covering Ohio State’s stacked wide receiver corps. Illinois scores a couple of rushing touchdowns, but another matchup that scares me: Shaun Wade covering Josh Imatorbhebhe. Bhebhe is great, and Peters is an excellent passer, but Peters tends to stare down Bhebhe a little too much. That won’t work against the best cornerback in the country. Ohio State is recruiting at Clemson and Alabama levels. Keep your heads up, Illinois!

Matt Rejc: Ohio State 52, Illinois 18

Illinois’ performance last week against Nebraska was surprisingly positive, and certainly changed my outlook on the team. That said, this game will be a tough one to keep close. Ohio State will be motivated to run up the score and impress the College Football Playoff committee. Although Josh Imatorbhebhe and Brandon Peters will likely be able to move the ball, especially in the early going, I don’t see them as being effective enough to keep pace with Justin Fields and the Buckeyes.

Billy Lawton: Ohio State 49, Illinois 10

Illinois’ offense was significantly improved with the return of Brandon Peters. The balance Peters provides with a reliable passing game is a boon for running backs Epstein and Brown to open up and operate. However, the Illinois offense was also significantly aided by Nebraska’s mistakes with an inexperienced quarterback. While Fields struggled a week ago, I don’t see it happening twice and he will have a bounce back game against Illinois to put him back in the thick of the Heisman race. While Ohio State’s secondary has been suspect and had a tough outing against Indiana, this Illinois offense won’t be able to keep pace with this special Ohio State offense. I expect the Ohio State front seven to hold down the Illinois running game and make life more difficult for Peters in the passing game. From top to bottom, the Ohio State athletes outpace Illinois, and it will show on the field.

Drew Pastorek: Ohio State 55, Illinois 23

Matt & Billy took the words right out of my mouth. The Illini are coming off an impressive outing last Saturday, but I simply can’t see them keeping pace with the Buckeyes. Mike Epstein & Chase Brown have been constants in the run game, and I feel Illinois will have to lean on them early to try to keep this game competitive. Illinois’ best defense needs to be its offense: move the chains, control the clock, pick your spots. The Buckeyes can score in bunches and have playmakers all over the field. I think the Illini can hang early but will eventually become overwhelmed. As we witnessed against Penn State a few seasons ago, it only takes a few plays to turn this game into a laugher. The Buckeyes are too fast, too athletic, too focused,and they’ll be seeking style points.