Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NO. 3 BUCKEYES PLAYING PUNDITS SATURDAY, NOT FIGHTING ILLINI

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COLUMBUS — Usually when writing a weekly game preview, I try to break down the match-ups and determine how that will dictate the outcome of the contest.

When it comes to this Saturday's Big Ten football tilt between third-ranked Ohio State (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) and conference cupcake Illinois (3-6, 0-5), employing that aforementioned format would be a waste of time ... and ink.

I mean, Ohio State has the sixth-ranked offense in the nation, averaging nearly 50 points per contest, while Illinois possesses the 114th ranked defense in the nation (out of 123 FBS teams), giving up seven touchdowns a game. 

An Illini upset — or coming within six touchdowns of the Buckeyes — is as likely as a politician in Washington doing something in the country's best interest. Neither will happen.

The reality is, Ohio State isn't playing against Illinois this Saturday in Champaign — they are playing the pollsters, the pundits, those who are looking for any chink in the armor to use against them in their "chase" for a national championship.

So, how does Ohio State do that? 

Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer needs to hold a seance and channel the spirit of John Heisman.

Heisman — who the coveted trophy is named after — was the head coach of Georgia Tech in 1916 when the Yellow Jackets defeated Cumberland College in the most lopsided game in football history, 222-0.

In that game against Cumberland, Heisman split his team into two separate squads and played them in alternating quarters, according to those who played for him that day. Heisman promised a steak dinner to the team which scored the most points. 

Now, I am not insinuating that Meyer buys his Buckeye team a steak dinner, because let's face it, the NCAA would be on them like flies on a rib roast. What I am saying is that they need to put up a number so ridiculous that it will force the voters to take extreme notice.

Ohio State simply beating Illinois isn't going to impress the voters, even if they won 60-7 — the average score of the Buckeyes' last two victories.

No, the Buckeyes need to put up NBA numbers, triple-digits, something that says, "Ok, the match-up is weak, but putting a century mark on any FBS team is no joke!"

Meyer can't pull his starters at halftime like he has in recent weeks. He can't worry about getting a brush off by Illinois head coach Tim Beckman following the game, like he did with Penn State's Bill O'Brien. He needs to play up-tempo, two-minute drill football ... for 60 minutes.

Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller can't go out and put up his usual 300-yards and five touchdowns ... he needs to double it. 

Bottom Line

The Buckeyes need to embarrass the Illini. I know it's not politically correct, but they need to bully Illinois on Saturday afternoon. This is what it's come down to in college football. 

Wins don't matter anymore. It's all about domination.

Meyer understands — he's been here before.

"The message is you have to play great," Meyer said Monday during his weekly media luncheon in Columbus. "To even be mentioned with those other teams, be careful what you wish for. That means you have to practice and play at a certain level.

"We practiced at a very, very high level today. And I expect them to play the way we all expect them to play. They expect to play at a very high level, because you're in the same breath with some very, very good teams.

"And to maintain that status you have to play very well. Very well."

Georgia Tech over Cumberland well?

Ok, maybe a little overboard there.

Lee's prediction: OSU 70-17