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A Tall Task for the Fighting Illini

Posted By Gregg Pluta On Sep 30 2010 @ 1:35 pm In Illinois | No Comments

The University of Illinois Fighting Illini are facing one of the toughest college football powerhouses, the Ohio State University Buckeyes this Saturday at 11 a.m. Central time.  The Buckeyes are undefeated on the season with 4 wins and 0 losses while the Fighting Illini are coming off a bye with 2 wins and 1 loss, that loss coming from the hand of Missouri.

The two offenses are lead by fairly similar quarterbacks.  Nathan Scheelhaase will be leading the Illini and Terrelle Pryor will be leading the mighty Buckeyes.  I am by no means saying that Scheelhaase has anywhere near the same amount of the Heisman Trophy hopeful Pryor.  Scheelhaase is a red-shirt freshman that is still learning to take the reins of the offense and learning what to do in all situations.  Pryor is a junior that is trying to will his team to an undefeated season resulting in a National Championship.  The two quarterbacks are similar in the fact that they are possibly the most important player on their respective teams in both passing and running games of their offense.  The statistics are shocking.  Scheelhaase averages 68 yards per game running and Pryor averages 67.2.  Pryor does have 3 rushing touchdowns while Scheelhaase has only 1, but remember Ohio State has played one more game than Illinois due to Illinois’ bye week this past weekend.  This proves that both quarterbacks are very talented at running the ball effectively.

While Pryor does nearly triple Scheelhaase in passing yards and touchdowns, this just proves that Pryor has had more time to mature.  When Pryor first started under center for the Buckeyes his passing game seemed non-existent.  There were  multiple games where his passing attempts did not even need more than two hands to be counted on.  I do think that Scheelhaase can possibly be ahead of the curve that Pryor was at with his passing at this point in Pryor’s career.

Do I think Scheelhaase will ever be a Heisman hopeful? No.  Simple as that.  Pryor has a great coach in Jim Tressel and has great players around him due to Tressel and his recruiting staff.  Scheelhaase just does not have as good of a team around him.  Yes, Mikel LeShoure, the Illini’s running back is very good and averaging 132 yards per game and 1 touchdown per game, but a good running back along with a run-happy quarterback is easy to defend.  This Saturday’s game should be a very easy time to compare the two Big Ten quarterbacks and their similarities under center, although the Illini may be blown out.

As of writing this article, Ohio State is favored in the game by 17 points.  I have to agree with this spread because the Buckeyes are ranked 2nd in the nation, but don’t be surprised if the Illini stick around for awhile.  The Illini have looked solid this season minus the second half of the Missouri game the first week of the season.  The Buckeyes beat Eastern Michigan last weekend 73-20, so only a 17 point spread is saying that the Illini are no team to laugh at. If Shceelhaase and LeShoure can produce an unreal amount of yards running and Scheelhaase can have a mistake-free passing game, then Pryor may be under pressure on offense and force plays.  Even with saying all of this, the game will be a tall task for Illinois, but it will be very interesting to see how Scheelhaase and the Fighting Illini will respond to the Buckeyes during battle.

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