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Ohio State looks for another blowout at Illinois

Oct 31, 2006 - 9:16 PM No. 1 Ohio St (9-0) at Illinois (2-7), 3:30 pm EST

CHAMPAIGN, Illinois (Ticker) - Illinois has shown signs of progress in its second year under coach Ron Zook. The Fighting Illini likely will not look good Saturday.

After a disappointing road loss, Illinois returns to Champaign to host top-ranked Big Ten Conference rival Ohio State, which has looked nearly flawless the past two weeks.

The Buckeyes (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) are coming off a 44-0 home rout of Minnesota, their national-best 16th consecutive victory.

Heisman Trophy favorite Troy Smith both ran and passed for a touchdown and Antonio Pittman rushed for 116 yards and a score for Ohio State, which has won its past two games by a combined 85 points.

Smith, who has 22 touchdown passes and just two interceptions this season, has thrown at least one TD in 11 straight games and has a passer rating of 174.3, the fifth-highest mark in the nation.

The Illini (2-7, 1-4) held a 21-3 second-quarter lead at No. 17 Wisconsin last weekend before the Badgers roared back for a 30-24 win.

True freshman quarterback Juice Williams had a strong first half but threw an interception early in the second half that turned the game around. He completed 13-of-29 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown.

Ohio State has won the last two meetings, 23-16 in Champaign in 2002 and 40-2 in Columbus last year. Smith threw for 298 yards and three TDs in last year's triumph.

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