Appearing lethargic from the end of the 2nd quarter through the end of the game, which earned the team a stern halftime tongue lashing from Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, Ohio State defeated Illinois — to claim its 22nd straight victory. Ohio State tied a school record with its 22nd straight victory, yet Ohio State did not impress its head coach, fans, or likely poll voters by giving up the most points to an opponent this season.
Ohio State started the game in strong fashion, scoring a touchdown off a 69 yard run by quarterback Braxton Miller. Ohio State led 7-0 after less than thirty seconds, and never looked back.
Illinois was unable to get anything going offensively in its first two series. Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaaase was intercepted by Ohio State safety C.J. Barnett during the Illini’s first series, and Illinois was forced to punt the ball back to Ohio State after their second series.
Ohio State moved down the field, largely on the strength of runs by senior running back Carlos Hyde. Braxton Miller had a key 31 yard scramble to put Ohio State in scoring position. Miller hit Hyde for an 18 yard touchdown reception to put Ohio State up 14-0.
Bad quickly went to worse for Illinois, as Nathan Scheelhaase was intercepted by Ohio State’s Bradley Roby. Roby returned the interception for a 63 yard touchdown to put Ohio State up 21-0 in the first quarter.
The second quarter was where Ohio State’s dominance turned to lethargy. While Ohio State was able to extend its lead to 28-0, off a Corey “Philly” Brown touchdown reception with 10:20 left in the second quarter, Illinois began chipping away at Ohio State’s lead.
On Ohio State’s sixth offensive series, Braxton Miller was sacked by Illinois’ Tim Kynard. The subsequent punt was returned for a 67 yard touchdown by Illinois’ V’Angelo Bentley. Bentley, formerly of Cleveland Glenville, put Illinois on the scoreboard at 7:29 left in the second quarter. The poor punt coverage, and missed tackles by Ohio State’s special teams, allowed Illinois to score its first punt return touchdown since the 2003 season.
Senior running back Jordan Hall aided Ohio State with a strong kickoff return. Braxton Miller was able to keep Ohio State’s seventh offensive series going on a strong 14 yard run, thanks to a great block by “Philly” Brown. Carlos Hyde scored his second touchdown of the day with an 8 yard run, putting Ohio State up 35-7 with 5:47 left in the second quarter.
During Illinois’ seventh offensive series, ESPN’s announcing team of Dave Pasch, Brian Griese, and Tom Luginbill began discussing the struggles of Illinois’ in-state recruiting and the tenuous job status of Illinois head coach Tim Beckman. Fortunately for Illinois, the players paid no heed to the negative tone, as Illinois scored with a 19 yard touchdown reception to Steve Hull to bring the score to 35-14 with 2:25 in the second quarter.
Ohio State’s eighth series began poorly. Dontre Wilson bobbled the kickoff return, and Carlos Hyde sustained his first negative rushing attempt of the season. As Ohio State left for the half, Coach Urban Meyer did not hide his disdain with Ohio State’s efforts…
Ohio St up 35-14 at Half, but Urban about to go off in the locker room based on his walk off interview. #lookout
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) November 16, 2013
During the half, ESPN provocateur Mark May predictably ridiculed Ohio State’s schedule, in comparison to other national powers such as Alabama and Florida State. Thankfully, both Lou Holtz and Rece Davis represented the side of fairness and logic.
Lou Holtz telling Mark May "he's had it out for Ohio State since they started doing the show!" Was priceless.
— Dustin Fox (@DustinFox37) November 16, 2013
My favorite person on TV: @ESPN_ReceDavis because he actually treats OSU fairly. Like how their schedule is probably better than FSU's?
— Matt Baxendell (@MattBaxendell) November 16, 2013
Despite a belief that Ohio State would come out intensely in the third quarter, the lethargy continued for Ohio State. Illinois quickly scored with an easy touchdown score to Evan Wilson, cutting Ohio State’s lead to 35-21. Ohio State’s Joey Bosa suffered an injury, forcing Bosa from the game, as the mood among the Ohio State faithful became even more concerned.
As Illinois began to threaten Ohio State, a critical series took place midway through the 3rd quarter. Pinned deep in their own territory, Illinois inexplicably attempted a pass with backup quarterback Reilly O’Toole. O’Toole was in the game as Nathan Scheelhaase was hit on a pass rush and lost his helmet. O’Toole was sacked for a safety by Ryan Shazier, putting Ohio State up 37-21.
After Illinois kicked off to Ohio State, Carlos Hyde was called upon to cap off the drive with his third touchdown of the game, putting Ohio State up 44-21. A scary moment for Ohio State took place, as Braxton Miller was hit late by Illinois’ Jonathan Brown, knocking Miller out of the game for a moment. On another drive in the quarter, Ohio State’s Drew Basil missed his first field goal attempt of the season, missing a 49 yard attempt into the wind.
Illinois did not quit, as the fourth quarter began. Nathan Scheelhaase scored on a quarterback keeper, then converted a two point conversion, to pull Illinois to within fifteen points to make it Ohio State 44, Illinois 29.
Ohio State went back to its 2012 playbook, running Braxton Miller on three straight plays on its first possession of the fourth quarter. Kenny Guiton was inserted into the game to give Braxton Miller a breather, while Carlos Hyde went over 100 yards rushing in the contest. Drew Basil atoned for his earlier miss, putting Ohio State up 47-29, with a 30 yard field goal.
On the subsequent kickoff, Craig Cataline helped the Illini effort with a personal foul penalty that put Illinois in better field position. Nathan Scheelhaase was able to shake off the effects of a Bradley Roby blindside hit, completing a pass to Steve Hull to maintain possession. Illinois scored on a Josh Ferguson touchdown run, and failed on its two point conversion. Ohio State still maintained the lead, 47-35.
Ohio State sputtered offensively, despite strong runs by Carlos Hyde. Braxton Miller on a third down pass threw an ill-advised pass that could have been intercepted by Illinois on a scramble that went nowhere for Ohio State.
Bradley Roby suffered a pass interference call to help Illinois on its next drive. A key sack by Ohio State’s Michael Bennett forced Illinois into a punting situation with about five minutes left to play.
Carlos Hyde continued his quest to become Urban Meyer’s first 1000 yard rusher, scoring his third rushing touchdown on an impressive 51 yard run, to put Ohio State up 53-35. Hyde had his career rushing game in this contest versus Illinois, going for 246 yards rushing. Hyde tacked on another touchdown, with a 55 yard scoring run, to give Hyde his fifth touchdown of the game, to put Ohio State up 60-35 with about two minutes in the game.
While Ohio State won this game, it is doubtful that Ohio State’s defensive performance, or lack thereof, will help them in the eyes of the voters. After the game concluded, here is what ESPN.com had to say on the matter…
I'm just gonna put this here… pic.twitter.com/ADqMddeGB8
— Tony Gerdeman (@GerdOzone) November 17, 2013
In the eyes of the national media, Ohio State is “holding off” unranked teams, yet other teams are not held to the same standard. By the way, I never heard back from ESPN on the Twitter exchange below…
@CollegeGameDay Will ESPN say these teams held off their competition, or blow past? Cause Ohio State winning by 25 = "holds off" by ESPN
— Chip Minnich (@ChipMinnich) November 17, 2013
If Ohio State had a game like Alabama did tonight, my twitter feed would be blowing up with questions about whether OSU would get jumped
— Jerry Palm (@jppalmCBS) November 17, 2013
Will Ohio State be jumped by Baylor in the BCS Standings? More importantly, what Buckeye fans will have to hope the defensive staff will be able to figure out what went wrong against Illinois, before the season concludes with Indiana and Michigan.