“The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.” ~ Ulysses S. Grant
Leave it to a native Ohioan to spell it out what needs to be done in order to win. West Point graduate, Civil War general, and former United State President, I am willing to bet Ulysses S. Grant would have given football coaching a shot if it had been around in his day.
While counting down the days until the 2015 college football season begins, I thought I would pass the time by ranking and reviewing the upcoming 2015 Ohio State opponents, from least difficult to most difficult. This ranking system of mine will be highly subjective, prone to possibilities of injuries, transfers, or other unforeseen events that could dramatically impact its accuracy. As always, I encourage comments and critique about what I have projected.
Illinois Fighting Illini (Game 10)
2015 OSU Opponent Ranking: 9 out of 12
Players Recruited By Ohio State: DB Caleb Day. Day played his high school ball at Hilliard, and turned down a scholarship from Ohio State to play for Illinois. There are other Ohioans on Illinois’ roster, but to the best of my knowledge and research, none of them were offered scholarships by Ohio State.
Game Date: November 14, 2015
Kickoff Time: TBD
Location: Memorial Stadium
Rationale For The Ranking: Remember how I wrote up above, “As always, I encourage comments and critique about what I have projected.“? I am truly anticipating my man Jeremiah Sharpe letting me have it on this one. But I will try to lay out my thinking on this.
I recognize how Memorial Stadium in Champaign, IL, has often been a challenging venue for Ohio State through the years, with Ohio State’s last visit to Champaign resulting in a 60-35 victory in 2013. That game was more representative of the poor defensive approach of the 2013 Buckeyes, more than the talent of the 2013 Fighting Illini.
Looking at Illinois’ 2015 schedule, I see a team that may be teetering on the brink of implosion when Ohio State comes into town. Illinois’ non-conference schedule should have them well-positioned at the beginning of B1G conference competition, but games that precede the Buckeyes (Nebraska, at Iowa, Wisconsin, at Penn State, at Purdue) may make them ripe for a knockout punch from Ohio State.
This could be the game that will end the Tim Beckman era at Illinois, based upon how possibly dominant Ohio State performs in this one. With all of the offseason turmoil Beckman and the program have experienced, the offseason injury to wide receiver Mike Dudek, and just the general sense of the program not moving forward competitively, it could possibly be a breaking point in Beckman’s career at Illinois.
Prediction: Right now, Illinois can point to this game as the highlight of their season, as the Buckeyes are the toughest team on the 2015 schedule (Aren’t the Buckeyes the toughest team oneveryone’s schedule? But I digress.). Another key factor to remember is Ohio State plays Michigan State the following week, so it may be challenging for Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer to keep the players focused upon Illinois, and not looking ahead to Michigan State.
Can Illinois pull off the upset? The last Illinois victory over Ohio State in Champaign was October 12, 1991 (Illinois 10, Ohio State 7). Yes, there have been some notable close calls in Champaign since then that Buckeye fans remember (2002, 2006, 2011), but most Ohio State fans have come to dread Illinois for the upset in Ohio Stadium like in 2007. For all of the difficulties throwing the ball due to the bizarre wind conditions, Ohio State has been pretty solid in Memorial Stadium.
Will Tim Beckman be able to pull off some magic and trickery against the Buckeyes on November 14, 2015? His team’s bowl eligibility, and his job, may depend heavily upon it.