On paper this is the best in the B1G against the worst. This should be a complete, total mismatch. And yet . . . The 2012 Buckeyes have faced several other teams they were much, much better than, and only played dominant football in the second half of the first game of the year. As much as any other "top" team the Buckeyes have played down to the level of the competition. The first half of Miami, most of the next three games in their entirety, IN, PUR, all of those were closer than the relative skill levels of the players should suggest. The quick excuse has been that the team is not as good as it is going to be, that this is a year of over-achievement. But the offense exploded for 63 against a Nebraska defense that is not that bad. If we could do it against the Cornhuskers what happened against the Boilermakers? We held a decent PSU offense in check till the game was out of reach, and while the Nittany Lions play more of a pro set than some of our other competition that should not fully explain how we gave up 49 to Indiana. I suggested that the team was not as well coached as Meyer was being given credit for - this was roundly rejected, though a team that is still letting defenders come in untouched to block a punt and looks as uncertain as we do on on-sides kicks in the ninth game is not demonstrating total attention to detail by leadership. We are 9-0 and we are the only ones who are, but if those 9 games have taught us anything it is that putting money on a particular OSU result this year is not a good investment.
I don't think this will be close. Of course I said that about Purdue too. But I really don't think this will be close. However, I do think the score will be closer than some are predicting. On the negative side I'm not ready to give this team the bnenefit of all doubt after one complete game. I expect that IL will do something to make our defense look bad, I expect that the stupid penalties we did not stop even in the Penn State game will crop up, I expect that Miller will force a pass that a defender will hold on to, and I expect that the systemic problems we have been having in almost all phases of special teams have not suddenly been corrected. I don't think these will account for a lot of Illinois points but I think they will account for some.
The big reason I don't expect a blow-out is because I think - I hope, actually - that Meyer no longer values them as much as he did earlier in the year. Were we not on probation and were fighting for bowl position we would want to impress voters and bowl officials and television executives. As is, we can win our last three games by one point each and we will have maximized our potential. AACC without Robinson lost to Nebraska. Wisconsin without Stave lost to MSU. Ohio State without Miller would be no sure thing against either scum or Whiskey. And definitely would be no sure thing if Guiton is not better prepared than he is now. Meyer saw against IN that when we start choking we need EMTs and he's not going to fool around if the lead is under 20. But I think - hope - that if the lead gets to 25 in the second half that Miller will be sat down to save wear and tear on his body and give Guiton the reps. If Miller plays the whole game and we win by just 25 I would consider this another under-performance even if that covers the spread. But if we win by 20 and Guiton gets in more than a full quarter I would think it a game well played.
Of course Meyer might choose to try for that 100 points he mentioned earlier in the year. This is a game where it is theoretically possible. I think that would be a terrble decision on his part but it could be in character.
So what's the feeling? Keep the peddle to the metal? Pure destruction even with subs? closer margin but better preparation for the future? and though I don't see it as likely it is a possibility: closer margin than we'd like despite our best efforts? 11W asks people to just gives numbers in guessing scores. Here's a chance to do some analysis.