Illinois could be playing host to the No. 1 team in the country when Ohio State rolls into town in mid-November.
OK, so it's hard to read that last sentence in late June and take it seriously. But the Buckeyes expect to be in national title contention this year after going undefeated in Urban Meyer's first season in 2012.
There's enough talent on the roster to believe it can happen. And the schedule may as well be a big, frosted, fluffy cake.
Quarterback Braxton Miller finished fifth in the Heisman voting as a sophomore, a year in which he passed for 2,039 yards, rushed for 1,271 and had 28 total touchdowns.
Miller was especially explosive against the Illini in Columbus. He finished 12-of-20 with 226 yards passing, 73 yards on the ground and three scores.
I'm not exactly inching out on a limb here, but Miller will probably be the best player Illinois faces all year. So… the Buckeyes are gonna be good. They have one of the country's best players. And they'll have a lot on the line. If that's not enough to get Illini fans scared/excited, I don't know what would.
Hey, I know last season's 52-22 loss doesn't make calling for an upset easy to do. It's definitely not something I'd personally put on Twitter.
But depending on how the season goes, if Illinois shows improvement and some semblance of forward progress, perhaps fans will wake up on the day of the Ohio State game and think, 'how sweet would it be to take those guys down tonight?'
That kind of anticipation is what college football is all about. And it's the kind of feeling you guys reading this deserve.
Series record: Ohio State leads 65-30-4
Last time: Ohio State 52, Illinois 22 - Nov. 3, 2012 - Columbus, OH
The Buckeyes racked up 567 total yards compared to Illinois' 170, as quarterback Braxton Miller and tailback Carlos Hyde combined for six touchdowns in the 52-22 victory.
In total Ohio State had 330 yards rushing and 32 first downs.
While Illinois didn't make major mistakes on offense (one turnover), the unit simply couldn't move the football. The Illini went 2-for-14 on third down, with short possessions tiring out an already spent defense.
The win was Ohio State's 10 in a row. The loss was Illinois' sixth straight loss and 11th consecutive in the Big Ten.