After posting their eighth win, the Illini are not only headed to a bowl game for the first time in six years but maybe the New Year's variety, near a beach.
Williams was the star, throwing four touchdown passes against the nation's No. 1 defense (it had allowed five all season coming into the game).
The Ohio State defense's best 10-game start in 32 years crumbled under a fairly simple scheme by the Illini. A lot of zone option read runs. The 260 rushing yards by Illinois was 40 percent of the season total Ohio State had given up going into the game.
Left tackle Xavier Fulton had an inkling on his team's second offensive play. A simple counter to tailback Daniel Dufrene turned into an 80-yard gain to the Ohio State 3.
Williams' first touchdown toss shortly thereafter to Michael Hoomanawanui was foreshadowing of what was to come. The big tight end's nickname is "Uh-Oh".
"College football has been so topsy-turvy this season," Fulton said. "It's been absolutely shocking at times."
The silence of 105,000 fans is a strange thing when all you hear is shoes in The Shoe shuffling toward the exits.
There will be no rebound for the Buckeyes even if they beat Michigan next week. As good as Illinois was Saturday, this was a bad loss for Ohio State. The Illini were in a jumble of four three-loss teams in the Big Ten. At this point in the season, losing is death. The polls and computers will be unforgiving.
"It'd be January," Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman said about the last time he felt this way. "These kinds of losses are hard to take."
So, finally, all this crap about Zook being the greatest recruiter ever trusted to run a program should be flushed down the toilet. Sometimes that emotion he wears on his Dry-Fit sleeves is good for something besides blubbering, which is exactly what he did earlier this season when Illinois beat Wisconsin.
It was, he said between welling tears, his biggest win since beating Florida State in his last game as Florida's coach in 2004.
Start crying big time, Ron, because you just topped that.
Zook disregarded his instincts and trusted those of a 19-year-old sophomore who can be as brilliant with his feet as he can be scatter-armed with his throws.
"That doesn't mean he's going to make a lot of major decisions from here on out, but I saw it in his eyes," Zook said.
For a moment, Zook was taken back two years ago. The Illini were stepping on a plane back home from here when Williams, then a high school recruit from Chicago, called just to say hi. The Illini had just been pounded 40-2.
"I told him, 'When we come back here it's going to be a different story,'" Zook said.
Sounded hokey then. Sounds hokey now. But one thing Zook could sell when he arrived was playing time. Williams has been starting since the fourth game of his career. Maybe that's why Williams got that first down Saturday night on a sneak, Illinois got the win and Zook hopefully got another, different reputation.
"You can't come into the No. 1 team's backyard and not be able to coach," Leman said. "We have talent, but I don't know if we have as much talent as they do. So, it takes coaching."
Whether Zook likes it or not, this is his turning point. Three years ago when he took over the job, Illinois was at the bottom of the Big Ten. Zook's rep might have been lower. Run out of town after three seasons at Florida, The Zooker started over at Illinois.
He already had beaten a No. 1, sort of, but no one remembers it. Zook's 2003 Florida team gave LSU its only loss that season. The Tigers were ranked No. 5 at the time but went on to share the national championship with USC.
Now LSU is likely No. 1 again because of what Zook accomplished here.
Let's not forget the man can recruit. He beat Ohio State twice in 10 months. Zook left Florida with the foundation of talent Urban Meyer used to win last season's national championship over the Buckeyes. Instead of being bitter, he reveled in seeing players like quarterback Chris Leak finally get their due.
"I don't have any redemption," Zook said. "I was so happy for those kids and their families. That's what we talked about doing. I'm not going to say it didn't hurt when people question whether you can coach or not."
But now it hurts a little less because -- on fourth down -- Ron Zook said yes.