Five questions to ask about Ohio State – Illinois

1. Will Terrelle Pryor continue taking care of the ball on the road? Pryor is third in the Big Ten in total offense with 302 yards per game. He is the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week after recording six total touchdowns last week against Eastern Michigan. But the key stat for No. 2 is that he has only turned the ball over twice this season. OSU becomes nearly unbeatable if Pryor takes care of the football, but this is the first time the Scarlet and Gray have played away from Ohio Stadium this season. 2. Can “Boom” and “Zoom” get on track? Between them, Dan “Boom” Herron and Brandon “Zoom” Saine have six rushing touchdowns and 361 yards rushing. Even their yards-per-carry average of 4.6 (Herron) and 4.7 (Saine) are solid. But anyone who has watched the first four games would say these two running backs could do better. Saine appears to be having trouble changing direction and finding the right holes. Herron has trouble breaking past the second level of the defense. Right now, Pryor is OSU’s leading rusher. 3. Will the Illini break OSU’s 100-yard individual rusher streak? Illinois running back Mikel LeShoure has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the Fighting Illini’s three games in 2010. It has been 27 games since the OSU defense allowed a 100-yard rusher. The “Silver Bullets” have only allowed seven 100-yard rushers since the start of the 2005 season, fewest in the nation. Something’s got to give. But consider this: Illinois has played Missouri, Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois to open the season. Chances are LeShoure will have trouble getting to the century mark. 4. Does anyone know what Illibuck is? Whenever OSU and Illinois meet, the Illibuck trophy is at stake. The original Illibuck was a live turtle. But the grind of traveling back and forth between Champaign and Columbus took its toll and Illibuck died in the spring of 1927. His successor, a wooden replica, has been used ever since. Members of two of the schools’ junior honorary societies meet at halftime of the game to award Illibuck to the previous year’s winning school. OSU leads the series 62-30-4 and has a 33-12 advantage in Champaign. 5. Will OSU have another close call in Memorial Stadium? Although Illinois’ last victory over OSU in Champaign was nearly 19 years ago, a 10-7 win on Oct. 12, 1991, the last four times OSU has visited Memorial Stadium, the scores have been close. OSU won 24-21 in 2000, 23-16 in overtime in 2002, 17-10 in 2006 and 30-20 in 2008. However, none of those OSU teams boasted the combination of a high-scoring offense (third in the nation in points) and suffocating defense (No. 19 in points allowed). Coach Jim Tressel said the difference between playing at home and playing on the road is pretty clear-cut in terms of dealing with hardship during the game. “You’re going to have some adversity,” Tressel said. “You’re not going to have that crowd there to help you through it. So you better play as well or better than you’ve ever played this year if you want to be successful.”

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