Chalk Talk's Game Plan: Illinois poster The Coach returns with his look ahead to Illinois with "Chalk Talk's Game Plan." The Coach takes a look at what Ohio State needs to do on offense, defense and special teams to stay undefeated and beat the Illini on Senior Day in the Horseshoe.

I have a special note to start today's keys to victories and it starts with you!

Crowd: Get loud! I mean really loud!! The Buckeyes are one game from going into Michigan undefeated and rated No. 1 in the country. Who thought they would be in this position? Illinois can be a dangerous team. They are very young and have not played in an environment like this before. The crowd must rattle the young Illini team.


1. Stop the Illinois Zone Running Game

The Illini run the inside zone with a quarterback read. The QB will read the backside defensive end, and the end will be unblocked in this scheme. If the DE slides down and goes after the running back, the quarterback will keep the ball and run in the area the defensive end just voided. The Buckeyes must first stop the inside zone to Rashard Mendenhall and then must stop the keeper by Juice Williams.

2. Stop the Illini Running Game

The magic number to me here is 125 rushing yards. This number might even be too low meaning the Illini are going to need more like 150 rushing yards to stay in the game and more like 200 rushing yards to win. If the Buckeyes hold the Illini to 125 rushing yards or less, they will win this game easily.

3. Make Williams Beat You With His Arm

If Williams is allowed to run for first downs, the Illini can move the chains. If he has to throw for first downs, they will struggle to move the chains. The Buckeye defense must try to keep him in the pocket, and if he is on the move, make him throw it. Look for the Buckeyes to spy Williams with a linebacker or even Vernon Gholston.

4. Additional Point

I would also look for the Buckeyes to play more zone coverage. This is for a few reasons. When Illinois shows the option attack or even the zone read plays, it allows the secondary to be more of a force in the running game. A second reason is with a mobile QB it allows pass defenders to drop and then come up and limit the gain on a scramble. A third is to confuse Williams and his reads.


1. Attack the Illini Secondary

In the games I have watched, the Illini secondary really struggles. I have seen them blow many coverages for long gains. One, I do not know if the Illini secondary can cover the Buckeye wide receivers without any broken coverages. Two, I do not know if the Illini secondary can go an entire game without a busted coverage for a big play.

2. Protect The Ball

When a young and undermanned football team hits the road in a hostile environment, they need turnovers to win. If the Buckeyes protect the ball like they have the last two weeks, they will be in excellent shape.

3. Score Early and Often

The Illini's best offensive weapon is their running game. The best way to take away a team's running game is to score early and often. That will force Illinois to alter its game plan and put the ball in the air more. The Illini have not shown the ability to throw the ball well enough to beat people.


Illinois has really struggled on special teams so far this season. They have an excellent field goal kicker, but other areas are of concern for the Illini. The punt team has not been anything to write home about. They also have had issues with poor penalties and poor execution at times. The Buckeyes should (and need to) win the special teams battle.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories