Let’s just get this out of the way, there is nothing that can be learned from a game against this Illinois team one week before the Buckeyes play Michigan.
But since we kind of always have to learn something after a game, we will soldier on because that’s just what we do.
So what did we learn from Ohio State’s 52-14 win over Illinois?
1. It’s Michigan Week.
…and Ohio State’s linebacker corps is playing at its best right now. With Tuf Borland in the middle, Jerome Baker at the Will, and Chris Worley back at the same Sam linebacker spot he played so well a year ago, it feels like the Buckeyes have finally gotten all of the puzzle pieces in the proper spots. And with Michigan’s tight ends, it’s really not a moment too soon. The linebackers need to be comfortable in order to perform at the level they’ll be needed on Saturday, and this would appear to be where they are all best suited.
2. It’s Michigan Week.
…and Mike Weber is looking good. In his last two games, Weber has rushed for 270 yards on just 20 carries. That’s 13.5 yards per rush. The recruitment of Mike Weber was Urban Meyer’s first win over Jim Harbaugh, and on Saturday Weber will attempt to be one of the reasons for Meyer’s latest win over Harbaugh.
3. It’s Michigan Week.
…and J.K. Dobbins isn’t bad either. Dobbins only rushed for 51 yards on 12 carries yesterday against Illinois, but the combination that he has formed with Mike Weber will give the Michigan defense a lot to deal with. Ohio State has rushed for more than 300 yards twice this season, and both times were in their last two games. Business is picking up for the Buckeyes, and now they even lead the Big Ten in rushing at 252.6 yards per game, and their 6.0 yard-per-carry average is nearly a yard more than the next best team.
4. It’s Michigan Week.
…and we don’t know what’s up with Jordan Fuller. Starting strong safety Jordan Fuller didn’t play on Saturday and nobody really knows why. If it was something serious, it seems that Urban Meyer would have said something about it. An OSU spokesperson was not aware of anything serious. If I’m taking a guess here, I’m assuming that there was some kind of tweak that they didn’t want to worsen in a bad-weather game in a contest that he wasn’t even needed in.
5. It’s Michigan Week.
…and Michigan doesn’t know what they’re doing at quarterback. Starter Brandon Peters left the game on a cart due to a head injury on Saturday. Former starter John O’Korn came in and Michigan’s last hopes went out the window. Original starter Wilton Speight has been cleared to practice, but he has not taken part in any contact yet. Will he be cleared for contact this week? If he is, will he play? Don’t expect any kind of information to come from Jim Harbaugh, however, as mystery is a bit of an advantage, and they’re going to need every advantage they can muster. By the way, the Wolverines haven’t thrown for 200 yards in a game in their last seven contests. The only time they have passed for 200 yards in conference play was in their first Big Ten game against Purdue way back when. (It was September 23.)
6. It’s Michigan Week.
…and the Ohio State offensive line is picking up steam. Along with the Ohio State running game dominating of late, the OSU quarterbacks have only been sacked twice in the last three games, and one of those was against Dwayne Haskins on Saturday. Right guard Demetrius Knox has been able to step in for the injured Branden Bowen and all five guys up front are now operating as one. Based on his play this season, it is difficult to imagine this offensive line without Knox in the lineup next year.
7. It’s Michigan Week.
…and the hidden yards are going to be important. Ohio State punts very well. Michigan does not. Every advantage in this game is a necessity, and Michigan punter Brad Robbins has not yet developed the necessary pin-them-deep skills that OSU punter Drue Chrisman is already succeeding with. Michigan may be more effective in the kickoff return game, which will make OSU’s coverage even more important. With a struggling Wolverine offense, the Buckeyes will want to make them travel as far as possible on every single drive. They just have to stay in their lanes and tackle.
8. It’s Michigan Week.
…and J.T. Barrett is looking to become the first Ohio State quarterback in history to go 4-0 as a starter over Michigan. That’s the kind of cement that can make a legacy stand forever.
9. It’s Michigan Week.
…and Parris Campbell is healthy and full speed. He may no longer be involved in kickoffs, but he will be involved in stretching Michigan’s defense east and west, which will soften it north and south. Even when Campbell isn’t touching the ball, he will be affecting the play. And when he does touch it, don’t be surprised when he does something big with it.
10. It’s Michigan Week.
…and that’s all that ever really needs to be said.