The Ohio State Buckeyes look to take another step closer to winning a Big Ten championship when they host the Illinois Fighting Illini. Game time is at 3:30 EST on Saturday, November 18 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. The game is being nationally televised on ABC.

Oddsmakers have the Buckeyes as 39.5-point favorites at home. There’s an over/under of 56 points. Click here for a full list of Week 12 betting odds and links to game previews.

Illinois vs Ohio StateVegas Preview & Game Predictions

The Buckeyes must have been mad about losing to Iowa a couple weeks ago because they responded by destroying Michigan State 48-3 last week. If Ohio State plays like that every week, there’s not a team in the country they can’t beat.

Unfortunately, the Buckeyes have already lost twice this season and so their hopes of making the top-4 of the College Football Playoff rankings appear slim. However, if they win out, the Buckeyes will play in the Big Ten title game. With a little luck, they may be able to sneak into the top-4 if they keep winning.

Meanwhile, Illinois just wants the season to be over. After starting the season 2-0, the Illini have lost their last eight games. It seems inevitable that Illinois will go winless in the Big Ten this season, as Lovie Smith still has a lot of work to do to get things moving in the right direction.

Every year, these two schools battle it out for the Illibuck Trophy, the second-oldest trophy in the Big Ten. Of course, the Buckeyes have owned the trophy in recent years, beating Illinois in 11 of their 12 meetings, including eight in a row.

Vegas Free NCAAF Betting Pick: Ohio State -39.5

Ohio State is going to win this game, it’s just a matter of how bad it’ll be for Illinois. I hate swallowing this many points, but I think there’s a good chance the Buckeyes are able to cover it. Ohio State knows they have to win and win convincingly, so I’ll lean toward the Buckeyes to do just that.

To be fair, Illinois has rarely been embarrassed this season. The Illinois defense is actually quite solid, giving up just 28 points per game. Even in their eight consecutive losses, the Illini have only lost by an average of 17 points per game. That was almost enough for me to lean toward Illinois and the points, but not quite.

Click on the link for more free NCAA football picks against the spread and total.

Being in the Big Ten West, Illinois has managed to avoid many of the conference’s top teams. They managed to keep things respectable against Wisconsin and South Florida, the only two ranked teams they’ve played this year. But neither of those teams is as explosive offensively as Ohio State. 

In addition to the Illinois defense having their hands full, one must also account for points coming from Ohio State’s defense and special teams. Illinois quarterback Jeff George Jr. has shown some promise this season. But he also has more interceptions than touchdowns. A powerful Ohio State defensive front will bother him all day, potentially forcing fumbles or errant throws. The Buckeyes scoring a touchdown or two on defense can’t be ruled out.

Finally, you have to look at Ohio State’s record for blowing teams out. The Buckeyes have won eight games this season, and in half of those games, they would have covered the spread for this week’s game. With Illinois arguably being the weakest team Ohio State has played this season, I have to think there’s a good chance of that happening again. 

I hate swallowing this many points, but this is too big of a mismatch. I’ll take my chances with the Buckeyes beating another inferior opponent by 40-plus points.