COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — What's brewing with the 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes ...
BUCKEYES BUZZ: In an often overlooked, dusty corner of a trophy case in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center is a block of wood that really only gets any attention for one week each year, if then.
It's called the Illibuck, sort of a talisman given to the team that wins the annual showdown between Ohio State and Illinois. They'll trade it back and forth for the 87th time on Saturday (noon).
Here's a few things to know about Illibuck:
— Ohio State leads the "Illibuck" series with a 61-23-2 mark.
— "Illibuck" is — or was — a turtle, destined for a long life, it was hoped. But the wear and tear of traveling between Champaign-Urbana and Columbus was too much, even for a hardy marine reptile. "Illibuck" died in the spring of 1927, and his successor is now a wooden replica. Members of two junior honorary societies, Bucket and Dipper of Ohio State and Atius-Sachem of Illinois, annually meet at halftime of the Fighting Illini-Buckeye game to present the Illibuck trophy to the previous year's winning school. It currently resides in that rather antiseptic environment in the Ohio State training facility.
Illinois last took the Illibuck with a 28-21 win at Columbus in 2007, but Ohio State took it back with a 30-20 win in Champaign in 2008 and retained it the last four years with a 30-0 win at Ohio Stadium in 2009, a 24-13 win at Memorial Stadium in 2010, a 17-7 win in Champaign in 2011 and a 52-22 win in Columbus last year.
SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE: It's not a secret that Ohio State has the nation's longest winning streak at 21 games. Beat the Illini and the Buckeyes can tie for the longest streak in school history, matching a tear compiled by teams in the 1967-69 seasons.
Illinois has not won a Big Ten game in more than two years. The first loss of its current 19-game conference losing skid was that 17-7 defeat in 2011 at home.
QUOTABLE: Illinois coach Tim Beckman on his team: "I think we have improved. I think we're a better football team than we were last year at this time. I think offensively, what we've done in a matter of a year has been unbelievable. Defensively, we've lost some players, some very good players that are playing on Sunday, and these players that we're playing with now have to continue to mature. It (comes down to) continued recruiting, and I think our coaching staff does an outstanding job with that. I think the University of Illinois is a great sell because academically they're as good as there is in the Big Ten and we'll continue to strive on the points that we think are necessary to make this program better."
IN CASE YOU WONDERED: Ohio State QB Braxton Miller was asked this week if he knew who No. 1-ranked Alabama was playing on Saturday.
"No," he said.
So maybe the Buckeyes aren't exactly preoccupied with what's going on elsewhere.
IT MATTERS: Players and coaches consistently say that they don't really care about individual honors. But that's not really true.
Buckeyes LB Ryan Shazier wasn't picked by coaches as All-Big Ten last year. And it really ate at him.
He readily admits that he used that as fuel while getting ready for this season.
"Oh, yeah. Those are really big motivation for me, every time I get those awards," he said. "When I don't get it, it just pushes me more to want to get them."