COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Dan Herron slogged through a downpour for two touchdowns on Saturday and No. 13 Ohio State collected a second straight shutout for the first time in 13 years, beating mistake-prone Illinois 30-0.
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The Buckeyes (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) and Terrelle Pryor had 0 yards passing in the first half and finished with just 82. He did throw a touchdown with 1:18 left. But Brandon Saine rushed for 81 yards on 13 carries and Herron had 75 on 14 attempts — scoring on runs of 4 and 2 yards — and the defense did the rest.
Juice Williams, who engineered a 28-21 upset of top-ranked Ohio State the last time the Illini (1-2, 0-1) came to Ohio Stadium, and his offense were held to 170 yards.
Even when the Illini were able to move the ball, they frequently were stopped by penalties (eight for 71 yards) or turnovers (three interceptions).
Aaron Pettrey kicked field goals of 50, 46 and 27 yards.
Pryor completed 8 of 13 passes for 82 yards, including a 2-yard TD toss to Dane Sanzenbacher. He also rushed for 59 yards on 11 attempts and threw an interception.
There were bad feelings between the teams early on. Before warmups Ohio State’s players massed atop the school logo at the 50 and traded taunts with the Illini, who ran right up to the Buckeyes. Coaches kept them separated and no punches were thrown. Two years ago, after the Illini had ruined the Buckeyes’ unbeaten season at Ohio Stadium, a fight broke out in the center of the field after Buckeyes players thought the Illini were stomping on their Block O logo.
Ohio State, which beat Toledo 38-0 a week earlier, had not posted consecutive shutouts since the second-ranked Buckeyes beat Minnesota 45-0 and Illinois 48-0 late in the 1996 season.
Illinois had not been shut out since a 33-0 loss to Rutgers in the second game of the 2006 season.
A heavy rain pelted the hardy crowd of 105,219 for most of the first half.
After Pettrey kicked his first two field goals, the Illini did all they could to help the Buckeyes out.
Pryor was thrown for a loss on first down at the Ohio State 16 but a facemask call advanced the ball. Later on, Pryor kept around left end for a few yards but the Illini were flagged for a late hit to move the ball from the Illinois 47 to the 21.
Three plays later, Herron took a pitch and skirted left end for a 4-yard touchdown and a 13-0 lead.
The Illini couldn’t get out of their own way — even when the Buckeyes made a big mistake.
Ray Small fumbled a punt near the end of the half and Columbus native Jeff Cumberland recovered for Illinois at the Ohio State 45. A pass interference on first down moved the ball up to the 30. But then the Illini had three penalties — illegal procedure, holding and delay of game — in addition to a dropped pass and a near interception. They ended up losing 20 yards and punting after the Ohio State infraction.
After forcing a quick three-and-out to start the third quarter, Ohio State took advantage of a 27-yard punt to tack on another score. It took the Buckeyes five plays to cover the 39 yards. Pryor sprinted for 23, setting up Herron’s 2-yard run.
Illinois collected three first downs and moved to the Ohio State 40 but then turned the ball over when defensive end Lawrence Wilson put a big left paw up to deflect and then intercept Williams’ pass.
The Buckeyes did not complete a pass in the second half of a 14-3 win over Michigan two years ago — also played in heavy rain.
The victory was the 500th for the Tressel family. Family patriarch Lee Tressel was 155-52-6 from 1958-80 at Baldwin-Wallace, son Dick Tressel was 124-102-2 at Hamline from 1978-2000 and son Jim Tressel is now 221-77-2 in 24 years at Youngstown State and with the Buckeyes.