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‘Hillbilly Elegy’ author, others coming to Springfield for Witt Series

Preview: Ohio State at Illinois

Who: Ohio State (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) at Illinois (3-6, 0-5)

When: Noon

Where: Memorial Stadium, Champaign, Ill.

TV, Radio: ESPN, 1410

Series history: This is the 100th game between the teams with OSU holding a 65-30-4 record. They’ve met every year since 1914 with the exception of 2003. The only opponent the Buckeyes have played more frequently is Michigan. They have a 44-58-6 mark against their rival.

The Buckeyes have won nine straight at Illinois. Their last loss was a 10-7 decision in 1991.

Stat pack: OSU QB Braxton Miller 108-149 (72.5 percent), 1,316 yards, 15 TDs, 3 ints.; RB Carlos Hyde 701 yards, 7 TDs, 7.3 avg.; WR Corey Brown 41 catches, 547 yards, 8 TDs.

Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase 199-305 (65.2 percent), 2,420 yards, 15 TDs, 8 ints.; RB Josh Ferguson 485 yards, 4 TDs, 5.3 avg., 37 receptions, 483 yards, 4 TDs.

Offense getting better: Though they’ve lost 19 consecutive Big Ten games, the Illini are much improved offensively after hiring a new coordinator, Bill Cubit. They rank 63rd nationally with an average 425.3 yards per game. They were 119th a year ago with an average of 296.7.

Setting the tone: The 6-foot, 230-pound Hyde is starting to appear in NFL draft projections as one of the top-five running backs available. He’s rushed for 575 yards and seven TDs in his last four games with a 7.7-yard average.

Local flavor: Defensive tackle Jarrod Clements, a 6-3, 285-pound pound freshman from Trotwood-Madison, has appeared in seven games for the Illini and is credited with three tackles.

Quote: Coach Urban Meyer on the lack of national respect for the Big Ten: “There’s one way to eliminate all that talk — go win a bunch of games, go win a bunch of bowl games and keep improving.

“There’s a lot of really good teams in our conference right now. Michigan State only has one loss, and it was a close loss (17-13 at Notre Dame), and it has the No. 1 defense in America. I think Wisconsin can play in any league in America and be right in the top two or three of those conferences. I have a lot of respect for Iowa after we played them. Nebraska is having a heckuva year, and so is Minnesota.

“I know good football teams, and there’s plenty of good football teams in this conference.”

Prediction: Ohio State 56, Illinois 13

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