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Ohio State vs. Illinois: Prediction, pick, odds, point spread, line, football game, kickoff time, live stream

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The game between No. 4 Ohio State and Illinois took an interesting turn Friday when it was revealed that Buckeyes coach Ryan Day tested positive for COVID-19 and will not coach Saturday vs. the Illini. Larry Johnson will serve as interim coach for OSU on Saturday in the absence of Day.

While it may not be a huge rivalry, you probably didn’t know Ohio State and Illinois battle for the Illibuck Trophy! Don’t worry; I’m not sure they realize it either. They don’t see each other as often as they used to now that they’re in separate divisions. Anyway, the tradition first began in 1925, and it was a live turtle, not a wooden one. The original turtle died only a year later, in 1926, and there have been 10 different wooden replicas since then.

Ohio State’s been the proud owner of the Illibuck for most of its history. Ohio State leads the all-time series between these schools 68-30-4 and comes into Saturday’s contest having won eight straight against the Illini. Illinois hadn’t beaten Ohio State since 2007 when the Buckeyes were ranked No. 1. The win would help propel Illinois to the Rose Bowl that year. 

Storylines

Illinois: Don’t look now, but the Illini are hot! Illinois comes into this contest having won two straight after an 0-3 start. Illinois has been cycling through quarterbacks this season, as starter Brandon Peters missed three games due to COVID-19. His backup, Isaiah Williams, was forced to miss the team’s game against Purdue due to contact tracing. That meant Illinois was down to its No. 3 QB, Matt Robinson, against Purdue, but Robinson suffered an injury early in the game and was replaced by No. 4 QB Coran Taylor. Williams would return to start against Rutgers and lead Illinois to their first win of the season. That means, in Illinois’ first four games of the year, it was forced to use four different starting quarterbacks. So, depending on how you look at it, the Illini are 2-1 when their top two QBs start and 0-2 when they don’t. Brandon Peters returned to start last week’s win against Nebraska and is expected to start against Ohio State.

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Ohio State: I don’t know that Ohio State had much of a problem finding motivation, but it got a little more on Tuesday night. It was somewhat of a surprise to see the Buckeyes a spot behind No. 3 Clemson in the initial College Football Playoff Rankings, particularly since Clemson has lost a game. Maybe the Buckeyes were being punished a bit for only beating Indiana by seven points, but that would ignore Clemson’s close call against Boston College, plus, you know, the loss. So I’m not sure why Ohio State is ranked behind Clemson, and I’m sure Ohio State’s confused too. I would anticipate Ohio State doing its best to clear up any confusion this weekend against the Illini.

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Viewing information

Date: Saturday, Nov. 28 | Time: Noon ET
Location: Memorial Stadium — Champaign, Illinois
TV: FS1 | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)

Ohio State vs. Illinois prediction, picks

Latest Odds:

Buckeyes
-28

Illinois has looked much better in recent weeks as its QB situation has resolved, but it’s done so against Rutgers and Nebraska, two teams that are a combined 2-7 on the season. This Ohio State team is another beast entirely, and as I wrote above, it’s also a team that now has a point to prove. If beating a top-10 team like Indiana by a touchdown is only good enough to get them to No. 4 in the rankings, they’re going to have to put a hurting on the Illini to get credit for the win. Plus, Justin Fields had his worst game of the season against Indiana and would like to get back on track to help his team and his Heisman Trophy resume. This is simply a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for Illinois. Pick: Ohio State -27.5

Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 13? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned over $3,600 in profit over the past four-plus seasons — and find out.

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