11W RoundTable: Illinois

By David Sokol on November 2, 2012 at 10:00a

We're back for another edition of the 11W RoundTable featuring your favorite Dubster Analysts.

They're coming for you, Scheelhaase

This week, with Illinois coming to Columbus, we spoke with Johnny, Miles and Sarah to discuss the upcoming game.

With only three games left—Illinois, at Wisconsin, and Michigan at home—we wanted to hear the current thoughts on the team, if this Illinois game posed any threat of being a trap, and more.

Buckeyes played very well against Penn State. As we enter the home stretch of this season, what are your thoughts on this team with three games remaining?

Johnny: 12-0 or bust. Right now the expectation has to be a perfect season because given both the evolution of the team and the quality of their upcoming opponents, 12-0 is a completely achievable goal and not one I ever really thought was possible at the beginning of the season.

Miles: I still think it's a good, not great team nationally, but great in the Big Ten. I think the Buckeyes will finish 11-1 with the loss coming on the road at Wisconsin. This weekend's game is pretty much a lock, though nothing would surprise me with this team. I think the Buckeyes will beat Michigan by two scores.

Sarah: One of the best parts of the Tressel years was that when November rolled around, Ohio State was gelling, and I'm getting the same sense about this team. All season long, they've been like the Aaron Craft of football teams (if not as defensive-minded): competitive, scrappy, and full of intangibles.

And ever since the comeback against Purdue, the light seems to have come on. As Urban Meyer, who has also had major success finishing out seasons, said this week, "This is a special team. They're fighting for each other. It's a refuse-to-lose type atmosphere."

This is not a perfect team; they're often inconsistent and prone to mistakes. But more than that, and even with key injuries, they have found ways to win, and I love that kind of—pardon me for continuing to use white basketball player adjectives—gritty determination.

How have your preseason expectations for this football team changed to date, if at all?

Johnny: Well my preseason expectations were "lose 3-4 games and also hopefully avoid an Urban Meyer cardiac episode" so yes, I'd say they've changed somewhat. The offense has been far, far better than I expected, and now that the defense seems to be rounding into form (bolstered by the now obviously genius move of putting Boren at linebacker), the Buckeyes look like they're still the best in the Big Ten.

Miles: Yes, my expectations have changed because this team is better than I thought they'd be. Before the season I was only expecting 7-8 wins. It's fair to say they've exceeded my expectations and when they perform well, expectations go up. I'm now expecting an 11-1 season.

Sarah: Though I certainly hoped for better, my preseason prediction was that Ohio State would go 9-3, which I thought was realistic given last year's issues and the learning curve for the new offense. Technically, 9-3 is still a possibility, but if that happens now, my wall will be covered in fist-shaped holes.

Where my expectations haven't changed is that at this point in the season, I thought they would have grown from their earlier struggles and come together as a team, hopefully laying the groundwork for a national title run in 2013. That's what we're seeing now; the win against Penn State was their most complete game this year, and that's what I want to continue to see through November.

Ohio State is 6th in AP Poll. If you had a vote, where would you rank them?

Johnny: I'd put them around 10th or so. As good as the offense can be, it's still pretty one-dimensional. Obviously the team excels at defending against pro-style offenses, but teams that can spread them out, like Oregon, and teams that are just more physical than they are, like Notre Dame or Alabama, would probably not have a ton of trouble with them. I know we're excited about the possibility of 12-0 (see above) but I think that's as much a commentary on how bad the B1G is as it is on how good the Buckeyes are.

Miles: If I had a vote I would probably rank them 5th in place of one-loss LSU.

Sarah: Oh man, if I had an AP vote, I'd be in Doug Lesmerises DGAF mode. I'd vote Kansas State #1 and cite Sagarin and computer rankings, mainly just to troll those who actually suggest that Alabama > an NFL team (which: c'mon). 

I'm cool with Ohio State at 6th. Even with a relatively weak schedule, they haven't been as consistent or as dominant as the other undefeated teams, which is why some people think they don't "feel" like—in some sort of "truthiness" version of rankings—what a #6 team should be.

Well, they've won every game, often in different ways, and have shown progress, so I think they deserve to be where there are. Whether they should be ranked ahead of one-loss LSU is another question, but that'll sort itself out this weekend. 

Do the Buckeyes run the table? If not, which game is the biggest obstacle?

Johnny: Wisconsin at Wisconsin will be the biggest test. Yeah, I know, the Michigan game is always a crapshoot no matter what, but my feeling is that Denard is entering his Mr. Glass phase of the season. And even if he is healthy, he's essentially the entire Wolverine offense. Their defense is still pretty good, but that won't make the difference on November 24th at home. I think the Buckeyes pull it off, and Bret Bielema picks up a comically oversized crayon and angrily writes letter after letter to Jim Delany complaining about Urban's recruiting practices.

Take a pic if you see this tomorrow

Miles: I definitely think the biggest obstacle is the game in Camp Randall. As of now I'm expecting a loss in a very tight game, but it's very winnable. The Buckeyes struggle too much, too often in Camp Randall for me to be confident about the game. If the defense can't tackle Montee Ball, it could be a long day.

Sarah: I'm not saying it will happen, but at this point, I'll be disappointed if they don't finish 12-0, which is crazy because before the season started, I thought that people who were predicting an undefeated season were being homerish and not particularly rational. I usually hate being wrong, but in this case, I would rather enjoy it. 

I can see where some would believe that Wisconsin is the biggest threat: they'll be out for revenge, Camp Randall is not a friendly environment for visitors, they've got a pretty good rushing defense, and Ohio State will be coming off a bye. 

Who's going to be their quarterback, though? Their offense is more one-dimensional than Ohio State's and they'll be facing a defense whose strength is against the run. 

So I'm going with Michigan in a rivalry where Anything Can Happen (as said by any broadcaster who has every called The Game). Their defense and special teams are decent and say what you will about Denard—preferably of the mocking variety—but it'll be his last regular-season game of his UM career. He won't miss it and given his ability to pull plays out of his butt, he could give the defense some problems.

But if Ohio State really has figured it out and plays how they're capable of playing, then they have no business losing any of their final three games. Still, November has a way of reminding us that college football can get bat-fecal insane, so I wouldn't bet on it either way.

It seems like the media and fans have sort of written off Illinois before playing at Wisconsin and Michigan. Is this, in your eyes, a trap game for the Buckeyes?

Johnny: No. Illinois is complete garbage in every way. Indiana sacked Nathan Scheelhaase seven times last week. If they score more than 10 points I'm going to be mad.

Miles: People have written of Illinois because they're a terrible team. With that being said, Indiana and Purdue aren't very good teams either and those two games were close. The Purdue game was seconds away from being a loss. So yes, I do think this is a trap game.

Sarah: It shouldn't be, but that doesn't mean Admiral Ackbar won't be lurking in the shadows. If I learned my lesson from, oh, about 80% of the Illinois games in my lifetime, I'm not about to completely dismiss them. Plus, Ohio State has had the tendency to play to the level of their competition this season and should've beaten up on teams that they looked like they were hitting the snooze button against. 

Tim Beckman knows Ohio State, Urban Meyer, and some of the staff and players. Illinois has at least a few solid players of their own and leads the Big Ten in punting and...yeah, Ohio State better win this game big. I want Kenny Guiton to come in during the 4th quarter for mop-up duty, greeted by a standing ovation while he relieves a perfectly healthy Braxton Miller, who will trot off the field as a bouncy Urban points at him.

Then again, I've had similar thoughts before other games this season.

Let's say Alabama loses in the next few weeks and Ohio State is the sole undefeated squad at the end of the year (other things would have to happen, i.e. Kansas State, Oregon, etc. losing). Do they have a legit argument to be AP National Champions?

Johnny: Not in my mind. I'm a pretty firm believer that you should rank teams based on who is the better team on any given week, not on resume or overall record or whatever. Let me put it this way: if Alabama loses to LSU in Death Valley but then runs the table the rest of the way and wins the BCS Championship, I don't think you could in good conscience put even an undefeated OSU team over them. Would I like to see it? Sure, because of how mad it'd make everybody else. But unless Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State, and Notre Dame start turning in some really, really assy performances, I don't think Ohio State is playing better than they are.

Miles: No, they wouldn't have an argument to be AP champs. A one-loss national champion would be more deserving than the Buckeyes. The Buckeyes don't have many impressive wins (or even potential impressive wins) whereas the other undefeated teams ahead of the Buckeyes have some impressive wins. I think it's very possible for a top 3 finish (assuming they win out), but not number 1.

Sarah: Spoiler alert: it's not going to happen. Even if college football goes completely bonkers in the next month, more so than in 2007, and every team but Ohio State has two losses, people would still vote for a two-loss SEC team as national champions, or whoever it is that wins the title game. That team, unlike Ohio State, will get a chance to prove it on the field.  

So whether they would be good enough for a championship will be a great unknown left for us to debate, like what's in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction or what happened to Tony Soprano or who let the dogs out.


Comments Show All Comments

hodge's picture

My God, gritty-white-basketball-player references, the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, and ADMIRAL AKBAR?  Flawless victory.

gwalther's picture

spelled *Ackbar

Class of 2008

Jimmy's picture

I was up voting this and hit downvote by accident.  Please forgive my fat iPhone thumbs. If someone could please upvote to make everything right I am sure Hodge would appreciate it.

hodge's picture

Ah, I probably deserved that downvote anyways.  I need to have my nerd-cred revoked for improperly spelling Admiral Ackbar's name.
Is it sad that I'm ebarassed about that?

tennbuckeye19's picture

"e-barrassed" must be electronic embrassment, i take it. 

hodge's picture

...yeah.  I suck.

tennbuckeye19's picture

"I - suck". Sounds like that could be an app.

AngryWoody's picture

Uhh...what kind of app would that be? Sounds like my wife would be mad if I got it.

Our Honor Defend!

gwalther's picture

Haha. Hell no it's not. 

Class of 2008

TatumRuled's picture

The best thing that could happen to OSU in the post season is Brax sitting in New York, sporting a tasteful scarlet tie (though I don't think he'd win).

"Hell, Woody didn't recruit me; he recruited my mother!" -Jack Tatum                       

SLVRBLLTS's picture

I also think the biggest accomplishment this season is the team to get it's "swagger" back. Last season deflated a lot of that and 12-0 is the best way to get it back.

"Because we couldn't go for three"

el duderino's picture

Technically, 9-3 is still a possibility, but if that happens now, my wall will be covered in fist-shaped holes.

Took the words right out of my mouth, Sarah. Also, I concur with Hodge's assessment: Flawless victory.

"This is a very complicated case: a lot of ins, lot of outs, lot of what-have-yous."

raki's picture

I don't think we lose at wisky... they don't have a QB, TTUM is the only legit team on our schedule. Just need to stop drob and game over.

hcazualcc's picture

unless the likes of alabama, notre dame, kstate, and oregon start losing I don't think the bucks have enough of a case for nat'l champs even at 12-0 :/

Yamosu's picture

Wisconsin???  Might I remind people that they had 38 yards on 8 possession in the second half/overtime after their starting QB went out.  So they averaged about 5 yards per POSSESSION!!!  I am more scared about illinois just because we tend to play down to them.  We have played all of our best games against the best teams (all two, this is the big 10... Nebraska and Penn State).  I'll give them credit on the defensive side, but I don't think they hold us to under 20, and I don't think they can score more than 10 (until garbage time when we give up an additional 14 points in the last 5 minutes up 21).

input4u's picture

Could we have competed this year with the top tier SEC teams?  Obviously with the bowl ban we will never know.  If we were eligible we would be a lock to play one of the top 3 SEC teams.
Looking at the next few years how long do you think it will take to compete with the top tier SEC teams?  With the struggles on defense and graduating players I have a empty feeling in my stomach that it might be 2-3 years away(at least).  We proved we will have no problem competing in the B1G and will continue the dominance.  But my real hope and question is How long will it take to confidently beat a Team like Alabama

Ahh Saturday's picture

Illinois has lost their 4 B1G games by an average score of 35-10.  Their average will look worse after tomorrow.
Remember what the Wisconsin game looked like last year before Russel Wilson started going HAM in the 4th quarter?  Well, Russel Wilson doesn't play there anymore, and Urban Meyer is our coach this year.
My brain will not allow me to consider the possibilty of letting the fighting hokes spoil an undefeated season.
Buckeyes finish 12-0 and send the seniors off with a season to remember with pride for the rest of their lives.

chitown buckeye's picture

I'm excited, nervous and scared all at the same time right now! (God, I love College football) This month of November is so critical. If we can run the table it would set the stage for a great 2013 campaign, along with continuing the great recruiting. However, if we lose one of these games I'm afraid it will turn into a huge disappointment for players, coaches and fans. Which in turn could start a negative effect on things as we go into the off season. I hate to put more pressure on anyone but as Sarah noted the greatest thing about Tressel was he owned November. I think it is very critical for Meyer to do the same.
Hands are starting to get clammy typing and thinking about the importance of November! :) Dont even want to know how I'm going to make it if we are undefeated going into The Game! Yikes! Attending OSU through the Cooper years makes me understand completely how 50/50 that game can be.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

Earle's picture

Say what you will about Tress and Tresselball, he was MONEY in November.  I just don't see them losing against Illinois or Wisconsin, though.  I think it all comes down to Michigan, as it should.

Snarkies gonna snark. 

timdogdad's picture

i think we're at the point of no return.  between lousy illinois, wisky with backup qb and regressed montee ball and the game at home, a loss will sting.  i'm not even letting the thought of being 11-0 and losing the last game to the team with  wee-wee colored uniforms happen.  if we lost to neb or msu and then to wisc and finished 10-2 that's fine but we're too close to 12-0 now.  

Pam's picture

It was Marcellus Wallaces soul that was in the briefcase. I don't know who let the dogs out

Ahh Saturday's picture

Actually, it was Tarantino's years as video store clerk in the briefcase.

hodge's picture

I heard it was originally supposed to be gold bars, but Tarentino decided (wisely) to keep the briefcase's contents ambiguous.
Trivia time! What was the briefcase's lock combination?

Earle's picture

In support of the the argument that it is the devil's briefcase containing Marcellus' soul, the combo is 666.

Snarkies gonna snark. 

hodge's picture

Correct sir!  Now, which famous director did Tarentino invite on set during this scene, telling him that this scene was his homage to him?

hodge's picture

If only haha.
It was none other than John Woo.

Pam's picture

Supposedly, when the devil steals your soul he takes it out of the back of your neck

hodge's picture

Yup.  I've heard that theory, but I also heard an interview with either Tarentino or Ving Rhames where they said that he had a massive zit on the back of his neck, and the band-aid looked a lot better than if it were touched up.

Pam's picture

It just seems so deliberate showing a close up of his neck

Run_Fido_Run's picture

The Straight Dope briefly reviews both above-mentioned theories, but concludes that what was really inside the case was a MacGuffin.

Oyster's picture

I like my Reeses Cup theory better, in fact, I can't wait to get home and steal more fom my sons trick or treat bag!

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

Oyster's picture

Didn't any of you people pay attention to the Halloween Candy thread the other day?
Obviously it is stuffed with Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, thus the glow that emenates when it is opened.

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

OSUBias's picture

I let the dogs out. Sorry everyone.

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

Denny let the dogs out.  He's just not telling anyone.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Christ - I was sitting in a bar at the Toronto airport last night watching the Chargers vs. Chefs game while waiting for my wife to arrive when some dude sits down beside me for a beer.  After about 10 minutes of chit chat the conversation steers towards favorite teams and he mentions he is a long suffering Lions fan - instantly my Spidey sense goes off and I pop the question - please tell me you're not a AACC fan.  Of course he is - I missed the rodent smell because he had it masked under a plethora of cheap Walmart cologne.  Then he burbed out some attempt at slamming OSU for cheating and that was the only reason we were able to beat them.  I looked him in the eyes I wanted to punch shut and said - good for you!  I'm glad you are able to find something to hold onto and enables you to sleep on your tear stained pillows at night.  You may want to start working on your next excuse now that Urban is in town...
There is NO WAY we are losing to these fuckers this year!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

David Sokol's picture

When I own an NFL team, I'm definitely going to name them the "Chefs" with either a nicely cooked filet or a lobster as the logo.

The Los Angeles Chefs vs. Cleveland Browns at Kitchen Stadium in Los Angeles. 

hodge's picture

If anybody but this guy is your announcer, I'm going to be mighty disappointed.

GoBucks713's picture

He's supposed to be on Mythbusters in the next few weeks.

-The Aristocrats!

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I can never call them by their proper names every again!  The Chefs would be a great team!  Your logo could also have a crossing ladle and a spatula with a meatball in the top V

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Hello children!  How are my favorite crackers today!  Epic!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Awesome name! But I wonder about the toughness of a team of men who trained for battle in France or Italy.  

The_Lurker's picture

I wonder how often Kitchen Stadium sells out. I'm guessing more often than Purdue.

BuckeyeLurker0509's picture

I hope Miles' prediction about the Wisconsin game is wrong. I will be in attendance for that game. The last time I was in Madison, Lee Evans burnt Chris Gamble on a stop and go route for the game winning TD in the most crappy rainy game ever.

Dougger's picture

damn youtube for not having a complimentary video of john rambo saying "Murdock (lightning strikes).. im comin for you!!" in Rambo first blood part II to go along with this article's picture tagline...we're too close to 12-0. and no way do we win an AP title unless all those teams ahead of us have two losses. which would be nice. and this
"I think the Buckeyes pull it off, and Bret Bielema picks up a comically oversized crayon and angrily writes letter after letter to Jim Delany complaining about Urban's recruiting practices."

I like football

Alhan's picture

They do:

Skip to 1:52

"Nom nom nom" - Brady Hoke

BuckGuy003's picture

My favorite article every week, and I'm driving 8 hours from va right now to this game so if they're losing to Illinois at halftime I will go in the locker room myself to make adjustments damnit!

chitown buckeye's picture

Ha! Great Comment!  May want to use your drive to prepare something in case your needed! Doubtful but never the less be ready!

"I'm having a heart attack!"

brglr14's picture

agree with most here that the wisky game is the scary one. on the road and 1 week before the wolverclowns. to me the off week is huge not just for health but for their heads. hope urb and the staff can really get em to focus on wisky and not look a head. and i wish people would let the "we should of self imposed bowl ban in 2011" go. i know not many here have mentioned it but my stupid ass news paper here in toledo has an article today about it. for me i believe gee was right and the ncaa was going to slap one on us with or with out self imposing one.

I dont know karate but i do know crazy and i'm not afraid to use it.


QBYBuckeye's picture

Before the season started I had California, Michigan State, Nebraska, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Michigan circled.  My hope was to win half of those games, and I thought at that time I would be happy with a 10 win season.  After getting by both Michigan State and Nebraska unscathed, now I won't be happy with anything less than 12 wins.
Illinois does not appear to have the horses to keep up.  Michigan is not as good as last year seemed to indicate.  And Wisconsin is too one-dimensional to put up the points necessary to beat us.  I really EXPECT to win out.

New York Buckeye

cplunk's picture

As others have said, Sarah won the internet with this Roundtable. Multiple nuggets of genius. I feel like it should have started with a gif of her bouncing up and down and pointing at me.

Shazier Missile's picture

Sarah, this was CLASSIC on so many levels: "I want Kenny Guiton to come in during the 4th quarter for mop-up duty, greeted by a standing ovation while he relieves a perfectly healthy Braxton Miller, who will trot off the field as a bouncy Urban points at him."

toad1204's picture

Illini game looks to be in the bag.  Looking for a quick start with many underclassmen getting some very vauble minutes.  And of course a very deserved 4th quarter from Kenny j(y)azz Guition. 
Wisky scares me if nothing else because its at Camp Randall and this new thing called the Barge.  Hoping Sabino is back to help Big Hank and Simon sink said vessel. 
Finally any guesses at game times for Wisky?  I, for some reason thought, it was a night game but at the moment am guessing its going to be noon.

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

gwalther's picture

Enjoyed Sarah's analysis most here.
Johnny saying we'd get blown up by a "more physical" Notre Dame I disagree with.
That same Notre Dame team who beat Purdue by 3 at home and had trouble with BYU...I think we could easily hang. And for that matter, I think we stood the same shot as they did of beating Oklahoma in Norman.

Class of 2008

OSUBias's picture

Careful on the Purdue argument; at least they got it done in regulation.
That being said, it would be an interesting matchup this year with us and ND. Our D matches up pretty well with their offense, if we could keep the QB in the pocket. But their D matches us well against our offense with that front 7; their weakness (secondary) against our weakness (throwing downfield consistently).

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

gwalther's picture

As I was saying about Notre Dame...

Class of 2008

RBuck's picture

I just hope like hell the weather is nice at Camp Randall. Seems like we always lose in the rain there. Shoot, that late in the season it might be snowing.

Long live the southend.

larzdapunk's picture

Great analysis, roundtable.  Consistently one of my favorite 11W features. 
Like many others, I agree that Wisonsin is the biggest threat mostly since it is in Madison.  There is no way.... NO WAY Urban loses to UM in his first matchup as head coach.  He understands the importance and I'm sure there are many tricks up his sleeve.  He would go for three on ALL THE POSSESSIONS if he could.  Hoke is gonna be salty after this one. 

CowCat's picture

In a way, we have a miniature season.
Hopefully the coaches and team will approach Illinois like the last game of the scheduled season, prepare hard during the off week, then approach the last two games as though they were the B1G championship and the national championship back to back.

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

osubuckeye4life's picture

So much win in this thread. Bravo everyone!