Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bucked in Champaign

Ugh, not a good showing today in front of the blue and orange stripes as the Buckeyes win their tenth in a row at our house. Oye - time to regroup.

What drives me nuts about this loss is the way it happened. We knew Ohio State would come into Zupke Field and force the ball down our throats with their ground game. Heck, Braxton only completed pass for a TD, nonetheless. Ugh!

The ILLINI defense really played well. We shut them down most of the day. However, the offense really laid an egg with three costly drive-killing turnovers that gave the Buckeyes exactly what they needed, short field possessions. And that really was the difference in the 17-7 home loss.

Don't get me wrong. This Buckeye team is getting better each week with more and more players coming off suspension. It's not the same team that last week blew a 21-point lead in Lincoln. And, it's not the same team that lost on the road to Miami a month ago. This team is one of the best in the nation on defense and in the run game. We knew it. And we under-performed in the loss.

AT times, the offense looked dazed and confused. Nate couldn't get his feet under his throws all afternoon. Jenkins looked average, getting shutdown by Roby (DB). And when they blew the final whistle, it was another tough Zooker-style loss that leaves more questions than answers.

Done. We led the nation in forcing at least one turnover on defense for 21-straight games. Over. They wont he turnover battle 3-0. Done. We averaged 35 points / game this year. Today, we posted 7. Over. Nate had gone 14 games w/o multiple turnovers. Today, he had two costly picks. Over.

So, where do we go from here? We get Purdue next on the road in West Lafayette. Boilers played the Lions tight today at University Park. So, that's not a gimmie for sure. We really need the offense to step up and out of each other's way. We need our play-makers to make plays and not turnovers. And while we still control our own destiny in the LEADERS division, we have a tough slate of games remaining on the back-loaded schedule with three of our last five on the road including a tough one in Happy Valley (Penn State). If I put on the forecasting hat, I see us going 8-4 this year, best 10-2. We'll get whacked by Wisky. And, I no longer think the Penn State game will be easy at their place. Michigan always plays us tough, especially inside Memorial Stadium. We better beat Purdue and Minnesota. But, this is ILLINI football we're chatting about. Going 0-6 is also a distinct possibility and might cost the Zooker more than an winning season.

Basketball season is under-way. And let's hope Weber's wonders are ready for another deep run into March.

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