Playing in Urbana Champaign, the Buckeyes secured their record-tying 22nd straight win over the Illinois Fighting Illini. Playing a game that was a lot more competitive than anyone anticipated, the Buckeyes held off Illinois by a final of 60-35. Braxton Miller struggled a little today throwing the football, connecting on 13 of 29 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 184 yards a touchdown and a fumble on 16 carries. Nathan Scheelhaase had a better day hitting 32/49 for 283 yards, 2 touchdowns, but also 2 interceptions. He picked up an additional 48 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
Carlos Hyde was again the star of the game for the Buckeyes. Carlos put together an impressive running day with 24 carries for 246 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground, along with 2 receptions for 26 yards and a touchdown. While not a 300 yard game, it was strongly reminiscent of Eddie George’s huge game against Illinois in 1995. Corey “Philly” Brown added 7 catches for 49 yards and a touchdown, while Chris Fields picked up 2 catches for 58 yards. On the other side Josh Ferguson carried the ball 15 times for 69 yards and a touchdown, while Steve Hull had 8 receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown.
The Buckeyes started the game with the ball and put the exclaimation point up early. Starting with a strategy that was very similar to the previous two games, Miller began throwing the little dump pass to the outside, once to Dontre Wilson on a short wheel route that he missed, and once to Corey “Philly” Brown on a WR screen. But it was the third play that broke it all open. Miller faked one defender out with the play action, then blew through two defenders that had no idea what was going on. By time the Illinois defense had recovered, Miller was 10 yards past them with a full head of steam on the way to a 70 yard score.
The passing game for the Illini is one of the best in the conference, with Nathan Scheelhaase leading the conference in passing yards. Not surprisingly, Illinois went to it early and found some success moving the ball. On his third pass, Scheelhaase tossed it over the middle into a crowd of Buckeyes that connected squarely with CJ Barnett for a pick. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes screwed up the center to quarterback exchange on first down, and were forced into a 3rd and 19 that they couldn’t convert.
After trading punts that put each team deep in their own territory, the Buckeyes offense got moving again. It was apparent that the wind in the stadium was having a major effect on things. Not only was Miller struggling a little to hit targets down field in the passing game, both under-throwing and over-throwing Devin Smith on long passes, but the entire offensive strategy seemed a little more constrained. Using the short passing game, and taking advantage of the power in the running game, Miller was eventually able to connect on short pass to Hyde in the flat that the runningback was able to put into the endzone from 18 yards out.
We’ve got a two-fer for your viewing pleasure this afternoon!
First, at Noon, the Buckeye football team travels to the space between the cornfields out in Urbana-Champaign to take on former Buckeye assistant coach Tim Beckman’s Illinois Fighting Illini.
Then, at 1 PM, the Men’s Shooty Hoopers tip-off in Milwaukee against Buzz William’s Marquette Golden Eagles.
Stop by and chat through both games with all of your favorite Buckeye friends and bloggers!
The #3 Ohio State Buckeyes (9-0, 5-0) visit the Illinois Fighting Illini (3-6, 0-5) for a 12-noon kickoff in Memorial Stadium in Champaign, IL Saturday. Ohio State comes off a much needed bye week while Illinois stumbles into week ten after a 35-52 loss to Indiana. Ohio State has won 21 consecutive games under Urban Meyer while Illinois has lost 5 consecutive games and is suffering a 19 game conference losing streak.
Illinois, under 2nd year coach Tim Beckman has struggled to be competitive on the field. Despite these struggles, he has remained compassionate; for example, offering a home to disaffected PSU players.
Illinois brings a not-too-good defense, allowing 483 yards and 34.7 points per game. In the B1G, only Purdue’s and Indiana’s defense are worse, and not by much. Offensively, they accumulate 425 yards and 30 points per game. So, they can put points on the board, just not enough to overcome what they allow.
Today was Evan Ravenel’s Senior Day at Ohio State, and while it may not have gone down exactly according to script the Bucks were able to give him a 68-55 win over the Illini as a going away gift. The game as a whole was a sluggish mess for both teams, but the Scarlet and Gray were able to find more consistency more frequently to help secure a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. Ohio State was lead in scoring by DeShaun Thomas’ 19, Aaron Craft’s 14, and Lenzelle Smith’s 10. Illinois’ Brandon Paul lead the game with 21 and was joined in double digits by DJ Richardson’s 10.
Considering the result of the game 2 months ago, it was fair to assume that the Buckeyes would come into this game and play with extreme prejudice. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, they instead began with what looked like empty gas tanks. There seemed to be no passion whatsoever, and the Bucks struggled to do much more than simply hang with the Illini. It seemed that OSU was one good run away from putting the game away early, and that run finally started to take shape around the last TV timeout of the half. Some beautiful play, including a behind-the-back save from Shannon Scott to trigger a fast-break, led by a stiffening defense gave the Bucks a nine point lead at the half.
The run did not survive the break in play. Both teams again seemed to sink into a slump coming out of the half. The Buckeyes couldn’t seem to increase their advantage, partially due to poor decision making, and the Illini couldn’t bring it any closer. It was the 30 minute mark of the game before anything started to change. Illinois finally began attacking the interior and the OSU defense yielded easily under the onslaught. Unfortunately for the Illini, they weren’t able to capitalize fast enough on the strategy change before Matta and company were able to make the appropriate defensive adjustments to put a stop to it.
This wasn’t exactly the kind of game I was hoping for from the Bucks today. After getting killed two months ago, I was hoping for a summary execution of the Illini. However, the Buckeyes did continue their late season winning streak into the Big Ten Tournament, which is huge for both tournament seeding and for confidence in the tournaments themselves. Hopefully this team prepares well over the next few days going into postseason play.
It has been 2 months since Illinois put on a devastating beat-down of the Buckeyes in Urbana-Champaign. Now the Buckeyes finally get a chance to avenge the loss.
Today’s game is scheduled for 12:30 PM EST on ESPN. The LiveBlog is scheduled to start 15 minutes before tip.
School: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Location: Urbana and Champaign, IL
Student Population: 40,616 total, 31,932 undergrad
School Type: Public – Land Grant
Stadium: Assembly Hall
Head Coach: John Groce
Experience: 1st year at UI @ U-C
Ohio State arrived in Urbana-Champaign for their first conference road game of the year and walked into a literal buzz-saw, losing by a final of 74-55. The Fighting Illini simply out-hustled and out-fundamentaled the Buckeyes in all phases of the game today, proving what many have suspected for a while – this OSU team still has a lot of work to do. While Brandon Paul did not go off for 43 this year, he did lead his team with 19 points to which he added 8 rebounds. He was joined in double digits by Nnanna Egwu (16), Tracy Abrams (13), and Joseph Bertrand (12) for the Illini, while OSU saw DeShaun Thomas’s 24 points to lead all scorers, and Aaron Craft’s (11).
The Buckeyes pulled their usual tricks in the early going of the first half. They came into the game completely lacking in intensity and allowed Illinois to jump out to a quick lead and some hot shooting. The Buck’s defense slowly improved to keep the game from running out of control early, but the offense continued to struggle with turnovers and poor shooting. Illinois eventually took advantage of the poor OSU offensive effort and blitzed out to a double digit lead. That lead would only be relinquished briefly before the end of the half, but Illinois reseized it and stuffed the traditional late first stanza OSU run.
The domination by the Fighting Illini continued into the second half. Through the first 4 minutes, the Illini blitzed out on an 11-2 run to open up a lead that would eventually climb as high as 25 near the middle of the second stanza. Eventually the Buckeyes decided that enough was enough and began to chip away at the lead. Not surprisingly, solid defense helped lead to good offensive choices down the stretch. Of course, Illinois made smart adjustments, and one critical wide open three, to kill the Buckeye’s promising run.
It was a matter of time before this team had a game like this. Sure they played well against Duke and Kansas at times, but they were eventually going to have an all-around terrible game against a solid team. For the better part of 30 minutes, Illinois did just about everything right, Ohio State did everything wrong, and the luck was clearly on the Orange side of the court. While the Buckeye’s short little energetic burst was a nice thing to see at the end of the game, it was far too little and much much too late to matter.
We’ve got an overlapping double header for you today!
The liveblog will start at 12:45 PM EST this afternoon. At 1 PM, the Army All-American Bowl will kick-off. There are three recruiting targets of interest in this one – WR Shelton Gibson, WR James Quick, LB Mike Mitchell. We’ll also be watching the following Ohio State commits throughout:
At 2:15 PM EST on the Big Ten Network, the Buckeyes Shooty Hoops team will take on the Illinois Fighting Illini. This same liveblog will cover both events.