Carlos Hyde smashed and Braxton Miller sizzled as Ohio State clowned Illinois, 52-22, and kept the Illibuck Trophy at home for another year. Hyde rumbled for 137 yards and three touchdowns on only 18 carries (7.6 average). Miller ran for 73 yards and a score and completed 12/20 for 226 and two more touchdowns, without a pick. Those numbers would have been even better if not for at least three drops by tight ends. Everything about Miller’s passing looked 100% better than the last couple of games. He stepped into his throws, hit receivers in stride, and threw spirals on a rope. The defense chipped in by holding the Illini to 170 total yards and just one offensive touchdown, which came late in the third after the game was well in hand. Aside from a few DERPy moments, the Buckeyes were in control throughout the game, improving to 10-0 on the season entering the bye week.
It was complete domination, really. The Illini were out-gained by 400 yards, 570-170 and the Buckeyes gained 32 first downs to 15 for Illinois. Included in that yardage total was a 333-73 edge in rushing yards. Miller took off for big chunks whenever he couldn’t find a receiver or pressure flushed him. Hyde simply went over or through defenders that were in his way. Aside from penalties (6-79) and losing the turnover battle (2-1), Ohio State has nothing much to complain about from this game. Illinois did outscore Ohio State 16-0 on turnovers, including the 77-yard touchdown return of a Kenny Guiton mishap on a late option play. But aside from that it was all Buckeyes and their lead was comfortable from midway through the second quarter through the final whistle.
After the game opened with an exchange of punts, the Illini drew first blood with a lengthy field goal drive. Ohio State answered with a drive that Hyde capped with the first of his three short touchdown runs. Illinois answered with a second field goal drive, aided by a long kickoff return by Terry Hawthorne to the 45 and a personal foul on Christian Bryant. Though Ohio State continued its trend of starting slow offensively, the Buckeyes held a 7-6 lead after one. Ohio State exploded in the second half, out-scoring Illinois 24-0 to take control. Part of that run was a nifty 51-yard pass to Rod Smith, who lined up wide, beat his man with speed and hauled in Miller’s perfect pass.
After the half, Miller rarely ran but Hyde continued to bulldoze his way for big yardage and the defense did a nice job containing Nathan Scheelhaase and whoever he gave the ball to. Ohio State held the Illini to just two conversions on 12 third down tries. Meanwhile, Miller and company converted five of 10. Aside from a couple of drops and a few turnovers, the only bad things to happen were injuries to Ohrian Johnson and Reid Fragel. With a bye week coming up, they will hopefully be all right in time for the trip to Madison in two weeks. I’ll give you further analysis in my usual Tuesday column. Let’s all enjoy the bye week.