Drew Thurman (8:33 am)
With the Illinois/Ohio State game approaching this Saturday, we wanted to get the opinion of an Illinois fan and blogger on what to expect. We caught up with Dan O'Brien of Illinoisloyalty.com, and this is what he had to say...
1) After a Rose Bowl trip last season, the Illini are 5-5 (3-3) this season. What do you feel has caused the step back?
"Inexperience at safety and linebacker (besides Miller), plus not-so-great play from the offensive line has not helped matters on the field when Illinois is consistently getting opponents' A-game this season.
That plus the 2008 Illini are not morning people. Illinois is 1-3 on 11:00 am kickoffs, the lone win coming at home against Louisiana Lafayette 20-17."
2) Who has impressed you the most on the Illinois team so far this season?
"Brit Miller has had a fantastic year, filling in for J Lehmen at the mike. Brit leads the conference in tackles per game (11.0), and is about the only guy on the D who has consistently shown up each game"
3) The Illini have played the Buckeyes tough under Zook, do you feel there is a reason for this?
"For some reason, the Buckeyes always get the Illini's best game in the recent history of the series (the Buckeyes hold a slight 12-11 advantage since 1983). The 3 games in Champaign this decade have all gone down to the final minute or gone to OT. I attribute this closeness to the historical interconnectedness of the two rivals, each being #2 on their list of most games played versus a team."
4) After the loss last weekend to Western Michigan, what do expect from the Illini on Saturday?
"A loss. See 11:00 am kickoff."
5) Who or what do you think the Buckeyes need to watch out for this weekend?
"I don't see Illinois running on the Buckeyes, so cover the receivers starting with Arrelious Benn, AJ Jenkins, Jeff Cumberland, and the big TE we call 'Uh Oh' because his full name is too tough to spell or pronounce. That, and blitz Juice."
6) Any other thoughts:
" Final Score: Ohio State 31 Illinois 24."