Kevin Wilson adhered to coach Urban Meyer’s mandate this week to keep the focus on the here and now, not the past or the future, but the offensive coordinator said there were lessons learned from the way Ohio State bounced back from a lopsided loss at Iowa to a lopsided win over Michigan State.

“I just think we’re very, very talented, and we’ve got a great culture, but you’ve got to work every week to stay home, to stay on target, and to stay locked in,” Wilson said Wednesday as the Buckeyes — No. 9 in the College Football Playoff rankings — prepared to play Illinois on Saturday. “It’s physical, and it’s mental, and it’s getting a group to have that energy and that focus.”

That has been the intent this week, even though the Buckeyes are prohibitive favorites over the Illini, who are winless in the Big Ten. Last week, Ohio State's attention was only on the Spartans.

“That’s been our whole deal," Wilson said, explaining that the goal is not doing "anything but put our focus on one game, one week, and have a great week, and that’s what we’ve done this week.”

Illini's D-line tough

Left tackle Jamarco Jones said the Illini have the offensive linemen’s attention, especially the aggressive defensive front.

“Their defensive line is really good, I definitely think it’s one of the strengths of their team,” Jones said. “They’ve got some guys who really get off the ball. They’ve got some young guys in there who rotate (into the lineup), and they just go, too.

“So we’ve got to definitely come prepared to play. Just like every week in the Big Ten, most schools have (quality players) in the trenches, it’s going to be a battle. And this is going to be no different.”

Michigan State has been known lately for the quality of its defensive front, although the Ohio State offensive line sliced through that group last week while launching running backs Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins to 100-yard games. Although the Spartans do a lot of twists and stunts with their front four, Jones said, the Illini pretty much just line up and get after it.

“They come off the ball, and they fight hard,” Jones said. “We’ve definitely got to be prepared. This is a really good defensive line we’re going to face, not some average defensive line. We’ve got to be prepared for everything they’re going to bring. And they come to play.”

Only one is questionable

Meyer reiterated after practice that Jerome Baker has been cleared to return to action, but fellow outside linebacker Dante Booker is still questionable. Both missed the Michigan State game. Meyer reported no other injury problems.

 

tmay@dispatch.com

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