Skull Session: Illini's Volatile QB Situation, Barrett Prepared for End, and Bucks 30-Year Favorites

By D.J. Byrnes on November 17, 2017 at 4:59 am
Johnny Dixon goes long for the November 17th 2017 Skull Session

300 pages into Oathbringer, and I can confirm it's a banger. Look for it to make my Best Books of 2017 List to debut next week, just in time for your Christmas shopping.


Word of the Day: Lothario.

 SWEEP THAT LEG FOR THE ILLIBUCK. Love Smith once coached a team quarterbacked by Rex "Big Sexy" Grossman to a Super Bowl loss. Apparently it's harder to find a serviceable quarterback in the plains of Champaign.

So far this year, the Illini has deployed three quarterbacks: Junior Chayce Crouch, sophomore Jeff George Jr., and freshman Cam Thomas.

After giving Thomas a chance, he missed last week's loss to Indiana. Whether it will be George Jr. or Thomas that starts against Ohio State, Smith remains uncertain.

It's doubtful Ohio State loses sleep over it.


On the 41 dropbacks that Jeff George Jr. and Cam Thomas made, they only completed 11 passes. On the 22 incompletions that were thrown, the majority of them were not even close to being completed. The offensive line let up a pressure on 30-percent of the dropbacks and as one can see, it was a complete disaster all afternoon.

Chayce Crouch began the season as the starter before struggling. Crouch struggled so much behind center that he was moved to H-back. Jeff George Jr. took over for Crouch and has completed only 50-percent of his throws to the tune of seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Smith decided to sub in true freshman Cam Thomas, who is a pretty good runner, but will not challenge any secondary through the air. George is the ‘better thrower’ of the two, but that’s not saying much.


Overall, it’s going to be total destruction for the Ohio State defense against Illinois. The offense has freshman receiver Ricky Smalling as a playmaker, but he’s most likely going to be blanketed by Denzel Ward. The defensive line is going to get pressure on these quarterbacks early and often, which will result in plenty of mistakes. It’s going to be ugly for Lovie Smith and it’s not going to matter who he chooses to start at quarterback.

All sounds good in theory, but I'm old enough to remember Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow looking like Peyton Manning against Ohio State earlier this year. Nothing is certain, but at least Illinois lacks Indiana's outside playmakers (other than Smalling, of course).

 THE BEGINNING OF THE END. It may seem to you, the gentle fan, that this season is almost over. After all, Ohio State honors its seniors Saturday. But take it from me, the yeoman covering games from my living room, there is still a lot of ball to play.

Saturday marks the beginning of the end, not the end.

From the G.O.A.T. Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch:

“I might see my mom cry for the first time, that’s a big deal,” Barrett deadpanned. “I’m 22 years old and I haven’t seen that. I think it’s just going to be a good time, I’m not going to do too much reflecting; we’ve still got a ballgame. It will be good just having my parents out there.”


So senior day marks only the beginning of the end, but Meyer said it’s an important tradition.

“It’s a tribute to our fans, the greatest fans in the land,” Meyer said. “And it’s an opportunity for our players to salute our fans. It’s not ‘goodbye’ by us. We’ve got so much to play for, so much going on.”

It will still be crazy to watch Barrett walk off the field of Ohio Stadium for the last time.

Again, people can have their 96th-year senior jokes, but it seems like only two years ago when Virginia Tech swamped him and we thought Ohio State wouldn't win a game that season.

 B1G FAVORITES. Ohio State opened as 38-point favorites against Illinois. Apparently that wasn't enough to keep a tidal wave of dollar bills falling on the Buckeyes. As such, the line is up to 41-points... which is an historic margin for a Big Ten contest.

From The Toledo Blade:

COLUMBUS — The betting line for the Ohio State-Illinois game on Saturday is up to 41 points, which makes it the biggest spread for a Buckeyes game in the Big Ten in at least 30 years.


2015: Hawaii +42.5 (Buckeyes won 38-0)

2017: UNLV +40.5 (Buckeyes won 54-21)

My gambling expert, who is also one of my cats, still likes the Buckeyes. The Illini are so young they're not even a real Big Ten team, and Meyer will let Barrett loose given the circumstances.

Don't think the Lovie Smith era works out like the Illini thought it would, either.

 JAZZ CANCELLED. College football is fun because your team can get lit up for 156 total yards and a touchdown by a guy named "Jazz" and still win the game.

Thankfully Jazz Peavy (and fellow Badger wide receiver George Rushing) won't be with Wisconsin if it meets Ohio State in Indianapolis for the 2017 Big Ten Championship.


Head coach Paul Chryst met with reporters after practice on Thursday to provide an update on the team’s personnel and injury situation when he revealed that wide receivers Jazz Peavy and George Rushing were both no longer with the team at the moment.

“For different reasons, both are not with the team right now,” Chryst said. “There’s a lot going on in these guys’ lives, and all that matters if that they’re doing all right. It was kind of decided for both to kind of help them navigate everything and take some time away from football.”

I always feel somewhat guilty when my team beats an opponent missing a key player due to injury. Will never cry about off-the-field antics, though. Jazz probably would've had 200 yards in Indianapolis.

 TALK TO 'EM, NICKY. Nick Saban can be bad. He can also be good.

I bought a pair of worn-out jeans in high school and remain ashamed.

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