Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
Date and Time: Saturday, November 18, 2017, 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH
Opening College Football Odds: Ohio State -38.5
Illinois vs. Ohio State TV Coverage: ABC
The Illini are playing short a total of 18 scholarship players at the moment, and this has really marred their season. They're the only winless squad in the Big Ten, and they surely aren't winning this one either at the Horseshoe.
Cam Thomas was the hip, new thing in Illinois, taking over as the team's starting quarterback for Chayce Crouch and Jeff George Jr. He's shown a real spark for this offense and played sufficiently against Purdue two weeks ago before getting hurt at the end of the game.
Thomas missed the Indiana game last week with that undisclosed injury, and we're not sure whether he's going to be able to give it a go this week against Ohio State.
Not that it really matters. The Buckeyes still have one of the most talented teams in America even if their National Championship dreams are quite possibly permanently shattered.
Ohio State had every reason to lay an egg against Michigan State last week. The Buckeyes were coming off of what will probably serve as a season-ending loss to Iowa, and the only thing they legitimately have left to play for is a spot in the Rose Bowl. With a good Spartans outfit coming from East Lansing, the Bucks could have easily been beaten for the second time this year at the Horseshoe.
The OSU offensive line was having none of it. A week after this team was punched in the mouth by Iowa, the Buckeyes dominated up front on both sides of the ball in a 48-3 victory.
Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins combined for 27 carries and 286 yards. Weber scored a pair of touchdowns in his biggest game of the season.
6 – The number of interceptions J.T. Barrett has thrown in his last two games combined.
This is a really big problem for Barrett and the Buckeyes. This was a man who had thrown just one pick in his first eight games of the season. To throw six interceptions in effectively seven quarters of football against the Hawkeyes and Spartans is really uncharacteristic, and it's a big problem for the Bucks.
Barrett might have gotten bailed out last week against Michigan State, but he certainly didn't in the other two games in which he was intercepted. The loss to Iowa was the one that got all of the attention, but that 183-yard performance with a pick (and no touchdowns) against Oklahoma wasn't any better.
No one on the Illinois defense has picked off more than two passes this year, and the team only has eight picks for the season. It's going to take one heck of an effort defensively for the Illini to force Barrett into these types of mistakes.
Against teams that were unranked coming into Week 11, Barrett averaged 274 yards per game and had 21 touchdowns with no interceptions.
Good luck, Illinois.
Illinois vs. Ohio State Free Picks
Not surprisingly, not only did Barrett play incredibly well in those games, but the scores were ridiculously lopsided, too. Those six games we mentioned earlier had final scores of 49-21, 38-7, 54-21, 56-0, 62-14 and 56-14.
If the Buckeyes are going to play as well in this game as they have against the rest of the minnows of the Big Ten, this game will end up being a romp.
Ohio State is facing a huge spread here from all of the top online sportsbooks at -38.5, but we don't see any reason why it won't beat that number, especially if Thomas doesn't play for the Illini.
College Football ATS Pick: Ohio State -38.5 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Ohio State 49, Illinois 7