COLUMBUS, OH – Sixth-ranked Ohio State topped the 50-point mark for a record fourth time this season and piled up 567 yards of total offense, rolling into its open week with a 52-22 victory over Big Ten rival Illinois on Saturday afternoon.
An Ohio Stadium crowd of 105,311 looked on as the Buckeyes moved their season record to a perfect 10-0 for the first time since 2007. It marks only the 10th time in program history the team has started a season 10-0, and with two games remaining, OSU has a chance for only its fifth unblemished season. The Buckeyes finished 9-0 in 1944, 10-0 in 1954, 10-0 in 1968 and 14-0 in 2002.
“I thought after a slow start, the offensive line and defensive lines took over and controlled the line of scrimmage, and if you do that you usually win the game,” OSU head coach Urban Meyer said. “We’re still a work in progress, though, and we’ll keep grinding.
The Buckeyes topped the 500-yard mark for the third time this year and the 50-point mark for the fourth time this season, establishing a new single-season mark. The Buckeyes had scored 50 or more points against three opponents four times previously – 1969, 1973, 1974 and 1983.
Sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller was once again the focal point of the offense for the Buckeyes as he accounted for 299 yards of total offense before taking most of the fourth quarter off. Miller completed 12 of 20 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns, and added 73 yards and another score on the ground on 18 carries.
Junior tailback Carlos Hyde also logged 18 carries for OSU, and he turned them into 137 yards and three touchdowns. True freshman Bri’onte Dunn chipped in with 73 yards and a touchdown, all on 13 fourth-quarter carries.
The Buckeyes totaled 330 yards on the ground, the second best total of the season behind a 371-yard effort during a 63-38 win Oct. 6 over Nebraska.
Miller spread his 12 completions around to eight different receivers. Junior Corey “Philly” Brown had four catches for 79 yards and a touchdown while sophomore tailback Rod Smith had two catches for 55 yards and a score.
Offensively, Illinois never got anything going. The Fighting Illini managed only 170 total yards – 74 on the ground and 96 through the air. Junior QB Nathan Scheelhaase completed 19 of 34 passes for 96 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and two sacks. Scheelhaase was also his team’s leading rusher, albeit with only 36 yards on 15 carries.
Defensively, the Buckeyes were led by linebacker Ryan Shazier, who registered 14 tackles including a career-best 11 solo stops. Shazier also had a pair of tackles for loss.
Senior fullback-turned-linebacker Zach Boren chipped in with eight stops while safeties C.J. Barnett and Orhian Johnson had six tackles each. Freshman defensive lineman Adolphus Washington had three tackles, including a sack. Senior lineman John Simon had the other sack of Scheelhaase.
Illinois actually had a brief 3-0 lead in the game when kicker Nick Immekus booted a 43-yard field goal at the 7:48 mark of the first quarter.
But it was practically all Ohio State after that.
Hyde scored the first of his three touchdowns with a 3-yard run, barreling through a pair of would-be tacklers at the goal line to give the Buckeyes their first lead at 7-3 with 4:14 remaining in the first period.
Immekus made it 7-6 with a 28-yard field goal with 38 seconds left in the first quarter, but that was the last anyone heard from the Illini for the rest of the half.
OSU kicker Drew Basil booted a 31-yard field goal at the 12:10 mark of the second period to give the Buckeyes a 10-6 lead and then they tallied three touchdowns in rapid-fire succession.
Hyde capped a five-play, 64-yard possession with a 5-yard touchdown bolt at the 9:01 mark followed by a 51-yard touchdown pass from Miller to tailback Rod Smith, who had circled out of the backfield and down the far sideline. Smith’s TD finished off a three-play, 69-yard drive with 5:14 left until the half, and then Hyde tacked on a 3-yard scoring run around right end at the 1:56 mark to give the Buckeyes a 31-6 cushion at the half.
By the break, Ohio State had already topped the 300-yard mark in total offense, outgaining the Illini by a 310-138 margin. Miller accounted for 229 of that total – 77 yards rushing on 14 carries and 152 yards through the air on 5-for-10 passing. Meanwhile, Hyde had 62 yards and three scores on nine carries.
The second half began as more of the same before it devolved into some sloppy play on the part of Ohio State.
Miller capped the Buckeyes’ second possession of the third quarter at the 6:45 mark with a 2-yard keeper, finishing off an 11-play, 73-yard drive to make it 38-6 in favor of Ohio State.
But Illinois got a respite when Smith fumbled following a 4-yard run and the Illini went 58 yards for their first touchdown of the game. Tight end Jon Davis, who carried the ball four times during the drive, scored on a 1-yard run and then the Illini got a two-point conversion when tight end Tim Russell threw to fellow tight end Matt LaCosse in the end zone to make it 38-14 with 53 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Buckeyes quickly answered when Miller directed an eight-play, 75-yard march, the final 37 covered when Brown took a pass and weaved his way through four different Illinois defenders on his way to the end zone. That made it 45-14 with 12:39 remaining.
But back came the Illini when backup QB Kenny Guiton coughed up the football at the Ohio State 23 and Illinois defensive back Ashanti Williams scooped up the loose ball and raced 77 yards the other way for a touchdown. UI got another two-point conversion when Russell fielded a bad snap on the PAT try and bounced off a couple of defenders before crossing the goal line.
That left the score 45-22 in favor of the Buckeyes with 4:56 remaining.
Illinois then tried an onside kick and appeared to have recovered the ball. But the Illini were called for touching the ball before it had traveled to required 10 yards, giving Ohio State possession at the UI 44.
From there, Dunn ran seven straight times for all 44 yards, the final carry worth a 3-yard touchdown at the 1:26 mark to set the final score at 52-22.