In another game in a weak schedule that the Buckeyes were heavy favorites, they took care of business yet again on the road. Braxton Miller moved the offense with his legs more than his arm, and Carlos Hyde exploded, particularly late, accounting for five total touchdowns and 270 yards of offense. The Buckeye defense missing some starters left a lot to be desired, but the important thing is the Buckeyes came back to Columbus with a 60-35 victory that keeps their BCS title game hopes alive.
Early, this game looked a lot like the Purdue game. The Buckeyes took just 36 seconds to get on the board as Braxton Miller took a quarterback keeper up the middle for 70 yards and the score. C.J. Barnett picked off a Nathan Scheelhaase pass in the first quarter, and Bradley Roby picked off a second that he took to the house to make it 21-0. The scarlet and gray opened up a 28-point lead early in the second quarter before Glenville’s V’Angelo Bentley put the Illini on the board with a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown. Following another Carlos Hyde score, his 2nd, Illinois answered back with a Scheelhaase touchdown toss to make the score 35-14 at the break.
The Buckeyes carried just seven linebackers with them on the trip, which green freshman and a couple walk-ons. Josh Perry slipped on ice in Columbus this week and did not make the trip, and Curtis Grant was a scratch after injuring his ankle. That meant that inexperienced sophomore Camren Williams saw heavy usage to go with Ryan Shazier and Tyvis Powell in the linebacking corps. Williams had 10 tackles and 1 pass breakup, while Shazier led the team with 16 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks.
In the windy environment, the passing left a little bit to be desired from both teams. Miller was just 13-of-29 for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Scheelhaase threw much more (33-for-50, 288 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 INT). Instead, it was Miller’s legs that carried the offense forward early. Ripping off ten yards or more a run will do that for a team. Miller ran it 16 times for 184 yards to go with that 70-yard run on the opening drive. Miller did take some hits, including a cheap shot while he was actually throwing the ball, which forced Kenny Guiton into action for one play, but overall, that’s his game, and that’s what the Buckeyes need out of him.
You really can’t say enough about Carlos Hyde, who has taken this OSU offense to another level. Hyde had a whopping ten-plus yards per carry as well, rushing 24 times for 246 yards and 4 scores. He also caught the first of Miller’s two touchdown passes on a pass out to the flat from 18 yards out to put Ohio State up 14 early. It’s simply fascinating that Hyde only incurred his first negative yardage play of the season in yesterday’s contest. Sure, Hyde broke off touchdown runs of 51 and 55 yards with the game’s outcome already decided (at least in the minds of everyone not named Dave Pasch), but it’s impressive nevertheless. It appears that with 947 yards currently that Urban Meyer should finally get his first 1,000 yard running back.
I don’t really know what to say about the defense, other than they shouldn’t give up 35 points to Illinois. The Illini scored late in the first half and on their first drive of the third quarter, making it a 35-21 game, but Ohio State was never really in danger of losing this one in my mind. They added a safety to take the lead out to 16 and scored a touchdown on the legs of Hyde to make it 44-21 late in the third quarter. From there, it seemed like the Silver Bullets went prevent and allowed Illinois to methodically march down the field. After scoring themselves and forcing an Ohio State punt, Illinois got the ball with just under seven minutes to play down 12, but they couldn’t make anything of it, and Carlos Hyde’s two runs sealed the deal. With 60 points and 441 yards rushing at over ten yards per carry, the offense doesn’t have much to worry about, but it’s that defense that can and will continue to creep some doubt into the pollsters’ minds.
Ohio State plays its final home game next week against Indiana. If they can avoid overlooking an opponent they should beat, much like they did with the Hoosiers last season in Bloomington, then it sets up one fun showdown in Ann Arbor.
(Photo: Marvin Fong/The Plain Dealer)