Crunching The Numbers: OSU-Illinois

To find out something Dionte and father Pepper Johnson have in common (aside from a last name), how some of the Buckeye strengths matchup with the Fighting Illini weaknesses, where this rivalry ranks against some of Ohio State's others and more, check out this week's version of Crunching The Numbers.


The game Saturday at Ohio Stadium will feature the Big Ten's leaders (conference play only) in several categories, including a couple that oppose each other directly.

Buckeye quarterback Todd Boeckman leads the conference in pass efficiency (157.9), while Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis is No. 1 in interceptions (4). Illinois defensive tackle Chris Norwell leads the conference with three fumble recoveries.

From a team standpoint, Illinois leads the Big Ten in rushing offense and sacks against. Ohio State is No. 1 in rushing defense and defensive sacks along with scoring offense, scoring defense, total defense, pass efficiency, third-down conversion rate and opponents' first downs.


Last season during a 17-10 Ohio State win, the Fighting Illini held Ohio State to its lowest output of the Big Ten season in the three major offensive categories: points (17), rushing yards (118), passing yards (108) and total yards (224).


Ohio State has scored on eight of its game-opening drives this season, including the last six.

10 Ohio State is the only team in the country with 10 wins, and the Buckeyes have their 17th 10-win season.

11 Illinois is 11th in the conference in passing yards and pass efficiency while Ohio State brings up the rear in kickoff return average.

13 Mike Vrabel set the Ohio State record for sacks in a season when he had 13 in 1995. This season OSU defensive end Vernon Gholston has 10 sacks.

16 Ohio State will honor 16 seniors on Saturday. Kirk Barton (Massillon, Ohio), Brett Daly (Elyria, Ohio), Daniel Dye (Napoleon, Ohio), Andrew Good (Boardman, Ohio), Larry Grant (Norcross, Ga.), Jackson Haas (Piqua, Ohio), Dionte Johnson (Columbus, Ohio), David Lisko (Hilliard, Ohio), Dimitrios Makridis (Warren, Ohio), Trever Robinson (Richmond, Va.), Brent Ullery (Centerville, Ohio) and Tyler Whaley (Ironton, Ohio) will play their final games in the Horseshoe, while three players who suffered career-ending injuries will be recognized as well: Devin Jordan (Massillon, Ohio), Curt Lukens (North Canton, Ohio) and De'Angelo Haslam (Akron, Ohio). Senior manager Jon Yeagley (Ashtabula, Ohio) will also be recognized.


The teams of Pepper Johnson and his son, Dionte, are a combined 19-0 on the season. Pepper Johnson, an Ohio State captain in 1984 and '85, is an assistant coach for the 9-0 New England Patriots, while Dionte is the starting fullback and a captain for the 10-0 Buckeyes.


With its 20th straight Big Ten win, Ohio State broke a Michigan record that was more than 100 years old by beating Wisconsin Saturday.


Ohio State and Illinois will play for the Illibuck trophy for the 81st time. The tradition started in 1925 with a live turtle to be exchanged between the schools. It is the only trophy for which Ohio State plays and the second-oldest in the Big Ten, trailing only the Little Brown Jug (Michigan and Minnesota).


Ohio State and Illinois have played 93 times. Ohio State leads the all-time series 60-29-4. Michigan is the only team the Buckeyes have played more often.


Illinois has attempted 242 passes in 10 games, the lowest number in the Big Ten. Ohio State is next at 267.

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