Buckeyes down Illini, stay unbeaten
Make it 22 straight for Ohio State under coach Urban Meyer, although not without a few glitches.
The third-ranked Buckeyes roared out to a huge second quarter lead Saturday, sputtered for most of the last 2 1/2 periods, but pulled away late in posting a 60-35 Big Ten Conference win over Illinois at Memorial Stadium.
Running back Carlos Hyde rolled up 246 yards on 24 carries and scored five times for Ohio State (10-0, 6-0), including touchdown runs of 51 and 55 yards in the last four minutes. Quarterback Braxton Miller rushed 16 times for 184 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown 36 seconds into the game, and completed 13 of 29 passes for 150 yards and two scores.
It was the sixth straight loss for the Fighting Illini (3-7, 0-6), who were eliminated from bowl consideration with their 20th consecutive Big Ten defeat. But their offense created some suspense after a slow start.
Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase hit 33 of 50 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns, although he also threw two first-quarter interceptions. The second was returned 63 yards by cornerback Bradley Roby with 3:30 left for a 21-0 lead.
However, Scheelhaase led Illinois back into contention with his arm and legs. The senior rushed for 46 yards and a score on 15 carries, accounting for 329 total yards on the day.
Wide receiver Steve Hull caught eight passes for 105 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown grab with 2:25 left in the first half. Running back Josh Ferguson added 69 yards and a score on 15 carries.
Coming into the game after an open date, the Buckeyes were sharp in the first 20 minutes. When Miller lofted an 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Corey Brown with 10:20 remaining in the first half, Ohio State owned a 28-0 lead and a 242-79 advantage in yards gained.
But the Illini gradually chipped away at the deficit with its no-huddle offense sometimes squeezing off plays every 10 seconds. Scheelhaase got into a rhythm, spraying passes to nine different receivers, and Illinois drew within 47-35 on Ferguson’s 4-yard run with 8:49 remaining in the game.
However, it couldn’t convert on its next possession after forcing a Buckeyes punt, and Hyde finally wrapped it up with his long scoring jaunts.
NOTES: CB V’Angelo Bentley’s 67-yard punt return TD in the second quarter was the first for Illinois in 10 years. He’s the first Illini to return a kickoff and punt for a TD in the same year. … When RB Carlos Hyde was tackled for a 2-yard loss with 1:50 left in the first half by LB Jonathan Brown, it marked the first time this season Hyde had a negative-yardage play. … Ohio State DE Joey Bosa (neck sprain) left in the third quarter and didn’t return. Bosa notched 2 1/2 sacks in the first half.