Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
With three days until Ohio State (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) continues its quest for an undefeated season against Illinois (2-6, 0-4 Big Ten), Urban Meyer said he’s heard of the Illibuck.
Admittedly, though, the Buckeyes first-year coach said he doesn’t know much about the rivalry trophy – a whittled wooden turtle – bestowed upon the winner of the game between the two teams.
That said Meyer seems fully aware of the challenge the Illini could present in trying to thwart the Buckeyes’ attempt at win No. 10.
Despite having knocked off the likes of premier Big Ten teams like Michigan State, Nebraska and Penn State, Meyer thinks Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. tilt against Illinois could be a perilous endeavor.
“I think they’re very dangerous,” Meyer said. “I think Illinois’ got every bit as much talent as we do.”
Despite the struggles coach Tim Beckman has faced in his first season at the helm in Urbana-Champaign, the Illini have won three of the last five meetings in in Columbus (2007, 2001, 1999).
Meyer said the Illini have the pieces needed to be a more competitive team – perhaps similar to the team that upset the then No. 1-ranked Buckeyes in 2007, 28-21.
“They have some projected high-round draft picks on defense, they got some good players so I’m not quite sure why they’re not, why things aren’t happening for them … there’s a bunch of good players running around on that team.”
Meyer said if the Buckeyes execute and “find a way” to win, they should be okay.
And while that concept might not be astrophysics, it could be the difference between OSU putting together what some might call a complete game compared to another slow start-turned-nailbiter like Oct. 20’s overtime win against Purdue.
If anything, though, Meyer said Illinois might be another look in the mirror, another gut check, another chance to see what the Buckeyes are and what they’re not.
“Here’s the thing: how good are we? That’s the question we’re asking ourselves,” Meyer said. “At times we’re really good, at other times we’re not.”
It’s why Meyer has slammed the door shut on talk of the possibility of a perfect season in and around the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
“We’re in no position to start worrying down the road or who we’re playing,” he said.