Ohio State-Illinois preview

Who: Ohio State (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) vs. Illinois (2-6, 0-4)

When: 3:30

Where: Ohio Stadium

TV: ESPN

Radio: WING-AM (1410)

Series: OSU leads, 63-30-4

Stat pack: Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase 84-of-137 passing (61.3 percent), 839 yards, 4 TDs, 5 ints., 161 rushing yards, 1 TD; RB Donovonn Young 400 rushing yards, 4.2 avg., 2 TDs.

OSU QB Braxton Miller 112-of-198 passing (56.6 percent), 1,527 yards, 12 TDs, 6 ints., 1,093 rushing yards, 6.6 avg., 12 TDs; RB Carlos Hyde 600 rushing yards, 4.8 avg., 10 TDs; WR Philly Brown 44 catches, 447 yards, 1 TD; WR Devin Smith 23 catches, 505 yards, 6 TDs.

Worth noting: Braxton Miller has accounted for 24 TDs this season (12 passing, 12 rushing), which is tied with Eddie George for the eighth most in one season at OSU. Troy Smith and Bobby Hoying hold the record with 31, and that total could be within Miller’s range even without an extra game in the postseason.

Pressure is on: Ohio State. This quest to go undefeated is getting serious, and the Buckeyes haven’t exactly dominated inferior teams this season. They can’t afford to fritter away possessions as they did in a near upset by Purdue two weeks ago.

Plus, they have a bye week after playing the Illini, and they’ll need to remember not to start their vacation early. The week off is coming at a good time, though, allowing players to heal up going into the stretch run against Wisconsin and Michigan.

Storyline: Braxton Miller will stay in the Heisman Trophy race as long as the Buckeyes keep winning and he can put up gaudy numbers. Kansas State QB Collin Klein appears to be the clear favorite, but their stats are comparable.

Klein is completing 70.9 percent of his passes while throwing for 1,630 yards and 12 TDs and rushing for 634 and 16 scores. He’s by far the more accurate passer, but Miller is easily the better runner.

Undefeated K-State plays at home against Oklahoma State tonight, then at TCU, at Baylor and home against Texas.

Edge goes to: Ohio State. The Illini have prevailed in seven of their last 11 trips to Ohio Stadium, including a 28-21 win over the top-ranked Buckeyes in 2007. But they’ve averaged only 13 points while losing their last five games.

Prediction: OSU 42, Illinois 13

Doug Harris, staff writer

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