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!
And who could forget the 2007 debacle as the undefeated, number one ranked Buckeyes were beaten at home by an Illini squad that played a near flawless game while getting a little help from the officials.
It seems impossible but Ohio State has lost seven of the last ten times they have hosted the boys from Champaign! I guess that is the reason I am losing sleep this week as I try and banish the bad memories and summon a heavy dose of courage.
Admittedly looking at the 2009 Illini squad it is easy to get a false sense of security, especially based on their game against Missouri. But this is a team loaded with athletes and considering their past performance at Ohio Stadium I am more than a little concerned.
I will never forget the show Juice Williams put on two years ago. Considered a tremendous natural athlete with great feet but possessing an erratic arm, he ripped apart our secondary with precision. The old saying is, "Lightening never strikes twice in the same place." Actually that is a myth! I recently read a NASA report that definitively proves lightening often strikes twice in the same location. As you can imagine, that research did nothing to help calm my nerves!
No, I am not predicting an Illinois victory. But I can assure you that I won't rest easy until the clock reads 0:00 and the scoreboard declares OSU as the winner. Here's hoping lightening does not strike twice in the same place this time around!