Drew Thurman (3:27 pm)

Week five produces some interesting matchups in the Big Ten, and fans will start to get an idea of who the real contenders are. Iowa left their mark a week ago with the win against Penn State, and this week several teams could join the discussion of the Big Ten elite. Let's look at all the games...

Wisconsin (4-0) at Minnesota (3-1):

The Badgers will try to defend Paul Bunyan's Axe after beating the Gophers 35-32 last season. This time around they head into TCF Bank Stadium, and you better believe Minnesota wants revenge. Both of these teams still need to prove that they have what it takes to be taken seriously in the conference, and Saturday could help. Minnesota has not really looked spectacular against anyone, and lost to a Cal team that got blasted by an average Oregon squad. Eric Decker keeps putting up the numbers though (499 receiving and 4 TD), and if he continues that the Badgers better watch out. Wisconsin themselves are a tough team to figure out. The looked very mediocre in the opening weeks against Northern Illinois and Fresno State, but landed a solid victory last week against Michigan State (38-30). I could very easily see Wisconsin going 6-2 or 5-3 the rest of the way, but to prove they can hang with OSU and Iowa, John Clay and company have to show they are a contender on Saturday.
Lots of odd things happening today...

1) The big news today was that the Big Ten suspended Kurt Coleman for his helmet-to-helmet hit against Illinois. What is really unfortunate is that the hit took place in last minute of the game, and you have to wonder why he was in the game to begin with. Regardless, the suspension does seem a little harsh, and hopefully this doesn't diminish the perception of tOSU captain. Even Tressel and Gene Smith seemed disappointment with the decision:

"Obviously, we will abide by the one-game suspension from the Big Ten Conference, but we feel as if there was poor judgment throughout. We concur that Kurt's hit was late and a result of poor judgment; he was thus penalized and removed from the game by his coaches. We do not agree that it was 'pre-meditated' or that he was 'targeting a defenseless' player."

2) Rumors about Lamaar Thomas may be building some momentum. His Facebook status left many fans to believe that his departure could be soon (which he quickly took off). Obviously there is no solid proof yet, but the whispers of this are getting louder. I really hope that this blows over and ends up being false, because no young man needs to be transferring in the middle of the season. On top of that, I still think his best football is ahead of him over the next few years. Let's hope he doesn't throw in the cards.
Dave Thurman (7:55 PM)

The Buckeyes exercised some demons this weekend, overwhelming an Illinois squad that had won seven of their past ten trips to Ohio Stadium, most recently ruining a perfect season in 2007.  On a rainy day in Columbus, Tressel's smash mouth attack was succesful, greatly thanks to the defense which seems to improve each week.  A little research reveals that this is the first time since 1996 that the Silver Bullets have pitched back to back shutouts!  Outside of the final USC drive they have been nearly perfect the last three games.

As for a recap, there isn't a whole lot that needs to be said.  Early on the Illini had some success on the ground, but a Brian Rolle interception thwarted their first drive, and from then on the d-line just took over and dominated.  Interestingly, Ohio State only attempted two passes in the first half, completing neither of them, but led 13-0, and Illinois was never really in the game after intermission.  The rain lightened, the Senator opened things up a little, and the Bucks cruised to a surprisngly easy victory.

Briefly allow me to highlight what I especially liked, and something I didn't care for (being picky, I know):
Dave and Drew Thurman (12:25 pm)

Mascot: Fighting Illini
Stadium: Memorial Stadium (62,870)
2008 Record: 5-7
2009 Record: 1-1
Head Coach: Ron Zook (5th year at Illinois, 19-31; 1-3 vs. OSU)
Lettermen Returning: 46 (17 Lost)
Returning Starters: Offense - 8, Defense - 5, Specialists - 2
Base Defense: 4-3
Base Offense: Ace (3 WR)
Returning Stars: QB Juice Williams; WR Arrelious Benn

Notable Alumni:

Robert Ebert - Film Critic
Jerry Colangelo - President & CEO of Phoenix Suns
Gene Hackman - Academy Award winning actor
Red Grange - Charter member of Pro Football Hall of Fame
Dick Butkus - Hall of Fame linebacker
Hugh Hefner - Editor-in-chief, Playboy Enterprises
Steve Stricker - Professional Golfer
Steve Chen & Jawed Karim - Co-founders of YouTube

Illinois Overview:

Ron Zook brings a disappointing Illini squad into the Horseshoe this Saturday, with a team who has already been written off after their 37-9 beating from Missouri. As ugly as that opening loss was, the Illini should strike fear for Big Ten teams because of their high potent offense (436.5 yards a game). Much like the 2007 edition of the Illini, this team has the ability to be scary when the offense puts everything together. Coming off a bye week, you have to wonder if that is a possibility this weekend.  
Dave Thurman (3:03 pm)

Here come the Fighting Illini and here comes a big dose of personal anxiety.  I don't know of any team, Michigan included, that elicts more bad memories or breeds more fear in me than Illinois.  Allow me to explain.

I was born in Danville, Illinois (though I moved away at age 2), and then lived in the state again as an adult from 1994 to 2000.  Maybe that's why I have always had extra incentive for the Buckeyes to beat the Orange and Blue as well as an extra case of nerves for this particular game. 

My angst could also be related to the fact that Cooper had so much trouble beating them.  His teams lost the first five (and six of the first seven) times they played the Illini. He finally started winning a few of these contests...until that fateful day in 1999 when the Bucks were clobbered 46-20.  I remember all too well, because I was watching the game with some friends in Catlin, Illinois, who are huge Illini fans.  One of them had a monkey, that when squeezed, played the Illinois fight song.  Needless to say I have never hated a tune so much in my entire life!
Drew Thurman (10:04 am)

This Saturday a rested Illini squad will come to Columbus, just off a bye week. Talk of Zook's crew has been hush hush after the 37-9 beating they took to open the season against Missouri, but that doesn't make them any less lethal come Saturday. For whatever reason, Illinois always seems to give the Buckeyes a little extra fight. Even the other Big Ten powerhouses, Penn State and Michigan, don't seem to get the same kind of physical play from the Illini that the Buckeyes do. At least in recent history, they are ready for blood when they see the Scarlet and Gray.

Fans will obviously never forget the showdown in Champaign in 2002, as the Buckeyes barely escaped with a 23-16 victory in overtime. Then the two teams would get a break for two years until they met again in 2005. That year, in Zook's first season, the Illini won zero conference games and got crushed 40-2 by the Buckeyes in Columbus (Smith and Ginn rocked them). Since 2005 though, the Buckeyes have not had an easy game against Zook and company. One has to believe that Zook, an Ohio native, feels beating the Buckeyes will build more momentum both for the program and for recruiting than any other game. It sure seems that the last three years, the Illini have circled their collision with Ohio State on the calender.  Let's take a look back at how those games played out...
It's about time that someone from the national media pointed out the major double standard going on with Ohio State and Oklahoma. Maybe the Buckeyes are facing more criticism because of the state of the Big Ten, but it is ridiculous that no one is pointing to the big game losses of Stoops and company. Thanks to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN though, some truth has finally been spoken...

Link: OSU hate, OU love creates double standard
Drew Thurman (12:19 am)

Any worries of a hangover after the USC game were erased as the Buckeyes dominated Toledo 38-0. There was still some sloppy aspects to how the Buckeyes played, but overall it was a confident statement a week after taking a major blow. So let's take a look at some of the things that stood out...

Positive Takeaways:

#1 - Number one on the list has to be the defense. It's obvious that slowing the Trojans down a week ago gave the defense some serious confidence. This was a high potent offensive attack they played in Toledo, and they couldn't even move the ball. It starts on the defensive line, with a unit that is athletic and hungry. They got after the ball all afternoon long, stuffing the run and pressuring the quarterback. There was only 2 sacks in the game, but Opelt didn't have a throw where there was not a Buckeye defender in his face.

The secondary is holding up its end of the bargain as well. Having a great defensive line makes life a lot easier, but they continued to look great in one-on-one coverage Saturday. Chekwa was tested twice (something rarely seen this year), and showed why you don't throw his way. What is so impressive about him is that he plays the ball as well as the defender. Coleman also had another great game. I loved seeing him force the fumble late in the game on the goal line . At a time when many defenders give up, Coleman was still fighting for the shutout. 
Dave and Drew Thurman (10:27 am)

Mascot: Rockets
Stadium: Glass Bowl (26,248)
2008 Record: 3-9 (included victory over TSUN); 2009 Record: 1-1
Head Coach: Tim Beckman (1st year at UT, 1-1)...former CB coach at OSU
Letterman Returning: 57 (7 lost)
Returning Starters: Offense - 9, Defense - 7, Specialists - 2
Base Defense: 4-2-5
Base Offense: Ace (3 WR)
Returning Stars: RB Morgan Williams; DB Barry Church

Notable Alumni:

- Christi Paul, CNN Headline News Anchor
- Chester Taylor, NFL Running Back
- Fredric J Baur, inventor of the Pringles can
- Philip Baker Hall, actor

Cheerleading Scouting Report:
Family Feud is a feature where Dave and Drew throw their opinions in on various Buckeye football subjects, which many times are quite opposite. This edition takes a look at some of the hot topics surrounding the Buckeyes as they look forward to the future after a tough loss to USC.

1) Beyond the disappointment of dealing with a tough loss, the Buckeyes are also dealing with criticism and outrage from fans. Do you feel the team bonds together after hanging with one of the best teams in the country, or will the USC loss a negative impact on the season?

Dave: I believe this is a defining week because Toledo is a lot better than expected.  Personally I think the Buckeyes will rise to the occasion and use the USC loss as a catalyst.  They be a little groggy in the first quarter, but I think they will win the game, and start to build back their season.  However, some fans will still be unhappy, because Tressel teams don't usually blow out lesser opponents or hang 50 on anyone and that's what people want.

Drew: From what I got from Tressel's press conference, the team has responded very well after the loss. I have heard a few others say it, but this team has a good mix of upperclassmen and rising youngsters that should stay hungry rather than get defeated. I think this team realizes that it could be very good (esp. after having USC on the ropes) so there should be no reason not to be fired up. My only worry is if they lose to someone else along the way. Pryor especially seems to lose a little confidence with every loss, and losing again could cripple him this season. 

2) The big news this week is that Cordle is out 3-4 weeks with an ankle injury. In his place we will finally get a chance to see how Shugarts looks. With the offensive line struggling for cohesion, is this a major setback or do believe Cordle can be replaced?

Drew: To say that this doesn't hurt, probably would not be truth. If Shugarts was such an unbelievable talent he would have beat out Andy Miller at left tackle. Don't get me wrong, I don't think Cordle is that great of an offensive linemen, but Miller and Shugarts at each tackle position scares me to death. On top of that, cohesion has been one of the big concerns for this unit and this hinders that yet again. I hope I eat my words, but things could be rough while he is gone.

Dave: Cordle has never impressed me that much, but he is a senior and they need him.  I think this hurts particularly the next week against Illinois.  Both Shugarts and Adams came to Columbus highly touted and its time for them to start living up to the expectations.  I will say that the interior of the line should be a strength as he year progresses but I think OSU will struggle at tackle all year.