Posted by Adam Jacobi
OHIO STATE WON. Reports of Ohio State's demise were premature, as the Buckeyes came away with a big win over No. 16 Illinois, 17-7. The Buckeyes took advantage of two Illinois turnovers for short fields and turned them into touchdowns, and a late Illinois interception killed a promising drive.
WHY OHIO STATE WON: Ohio State didn't actually do a whole lot on offense, gaining just 229 yards and 14 first downs, but the Buckeyes made clutch plays when they mattered. Courtney Roby picked Nathan Scheelhaase off on the second play of the 3rd quarter and took the ball back to the Illini 12, and Dan Herron would score on the very next play. On the second play of the fourth quarter, A.J. Jenkins fumbled, and Storm Klein was there for the recovery. Three plays later, touchdown pass from Braxton Miller to Jake Stoneburner -- more on that later -- and that was all the offense the Buckeyes would need.
WHEN OHIO STATE WON: With the score 17-7 late in the fourth quarter and Illinois facing a 4th and 2 in the OSU red zone, Ron Zook eschewed the easy three points in front of him and had his charges go for it. The play was botched, OSU took over, and never gave the ball back.
WHAT OHIO STATE WON: If you want to talk about "finding a way to win," this game is a prime example. OSU was struggling on offense even more than Illinois was, but the Buckeyes forced the Illini into multiple mistakes without making many of their own, and that was enough to swing the game. More than that, OSU avoided a three-game losing streak in conference play, though the two losses will likely keep the Buckeyes out of the conference title game unless all hell breaks loose in the Leaders Division.
WHAT ILLINOIS LOST: Gone is the perfect record and the lofty ranking, as the Illini will likely tumble from No. 16 when Sunday rolls around. Nathan Scheelhaase had his worst day of the year, gaining just five yards per pass and 3.1 yards a pop on the ground while giving the ball away twice. Illinois can still salvage a division title by winning out, but that doesn't seem terribly likely.
THAT WAS CRAZY: So, that touchdown pass we mentioned earlier? That was all Braxton Miller did through the air. No, seriously, that was it. Miller's final passing stats: 1-4, 17 yards, 1 TD, and he played the entire game at QB. All in all, OSU rushed on 51 of its plays, and passed on just those four. Hey, we said OSU was going to need to rely on its ground game.