LIVE! Memorial Stadium (Ohio State)
Carlos Hyde ran for 246 yards and four touchdowns and Braxton Miller had another 184 yards rushing and two scores Saturday to push No. 3 Ohio State past Illinois 60-35.
But even with Hyde’s offensive explosion, the Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) needed a third-quarter defensive stop and safety to recover the momentum.
After trailing 28-0 in the second quarter, Illinois (3-7, 0-6) closed to 35-21 in the third on two Nathan Scheelhaase touchdown passes.
Illinois had the momentum when the Buckeyes’ Ryan Shazier sacked backup quarterback Reilly O’Toole in the end zone. Illinois recovered his fumble but the safety gave the Buckeyes a 37-21 edge and the ball. Minutes later, a Hyde touchdown put them up 44-21.
Hyde tacked on two late, long touchdowns runs of 55 and 51 yards.
Miller threw for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
Scheelhaase led the Illini with 288 yards passing and two touchdowns.
The Buckeyes defense kept Scheelhaase under pressure all day, sacking him five times and hitting him more than that.
It was one of those hits that kept Ohio State in control when Illinois was getting back into the game.
After Illinois closed to within two scores at 35-21, Scheelhaase had his helmet ripped off at his own goal line. Under the rules, he had to leave the game for a play, bringing O’Toole on.
The Buckeyes teed off on the backup quarterback, with Shazier hitting him from behind and knocking the ball loose. Tight end Matt LaCosse recovered the ball for Illinois to limit the damage to the safety.
The momentum swung swiftly back to the Buckeyes.
On the following drive, Ohio State moved quickly to the Illini 8-yard line.
Miller rolled left and threw an incomplete pass before taking a big hit from linebacker Jonathan Brown. The quarterback stayed on the turf for a time before briefly leaving the game.
Backup Kenny Guiton came on, handing off two plays later to Hyde for the 1-yard touchdown that put the game firmly back in the Buckeyes’ grip at 44-21.
Miller’s minute or so on the turf was a long one for the nervous Buckeyes, but he returned during the next series and finished the game.
Fast doesn’t adequately describe how quick the Buckeyes came out Saturday.
Thirty-six seconds into the game, Miller ran up the middle of the Illinois defense for a 69-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. He slowed at about the Illinois 5-yard line, jogging the last couple of steps.
Over the next 15 minutes, it looked like it might be just that easy for a Buckeyes team in search of big wins that might convince voters that they belong in the national title picture.
Hyde put the Buckeyes up 14-0 with just under five minutes left in the opening quarter on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Miller.
Less than two minutes later, corner Bradley Roby added another touchdown, pulling down a tipped Scheelhaase pass and returning it 63 yards.
In those first 15 minutes, the Illini offense consisted of 88 yards and a pair of Scheelhaase interceptions.
But the Illini just wouldn’t go away.
Down 28-0, V’Angelo Bentley returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown with 7:29 left in the half to get the Illini on the board.
Then, down 35-7, Scheelhaase engineered two scoring drives that got Illinois back in the game.
The first ended with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Steve Hull with 2:25 left in the half to make the score 35-14. The second, early in the third quarter, ended with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Evan Wilson. The extra point pulled Illinois to within 35-21.
More coming later on HQ
Ohio State 47, Illinois 29, 10:43 left in fourth quarter
Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde were up to their old tricks. The quarterback and running back ran the ball at will against Illinois, but the Buckeyes had to settle for a 1-yard field goal from Drew Basil. Doesn't look like the Buckeyes will cover the spread, just like it doesn't look like many Illinois fans will still be in the stands at the end of today's game.
Ohio State 44, Illinois 29, 14:22 left in fourth quarter
One thing you can't say about Illinois this year that you could say last year. This team doesn't go away. Nathan Scheelhaase is having a superb game running the ball in the second half, which he added to on a 5-yard touchdown run just now. Still a slim, again, at best, chance Illinois in the game. Scheelhaase hit Miles Osei for the two-point conversion. Onside kick coming? Perhaps.
Ohio State 44, Illinois 21, End of third quarter
Third quarter hero: Carlos Hyde. The Ohio State running back has the downhill, north-south approach Bill Cubit would love to have. He is always moving forward and is a bear to bring down.
Third quarter goat: Illinois coaches. Tim Beckman and Cubit were seen exchanging harsh words on the sidelines in the quarter after Reilly O'Toole was sacked and fumbled for a safety. Does not help all the talk Beckman has tried to preach this season of family and moving forward and staying positive.
Third quarter thoughts: That new rule about players having to leave the field hurt Illinois. Nathan Scheelhaase's helmet came off, O'Toole came in the game, was sacked, fumbled and Matt LaCosse recovered for a safety. Jonathan Brown delivered a late hit to Braxton Miller. The Ohio State quarterback walked off the field and has returned to the game. The Illinois defensive problems that were not in place earlier in the quarter came out again after the safety. Now the only real question is can Ohio State cover the spread.
Ohio State 44, Illinois 21, 4:10 left in third quarter
Carlos Hyde bulled over Ralph Cooper for a 4-yard touchdown run. Which came after Jonathan Brown nearly was ejected for targeting on his late hit on Braxton Miller. And ESPN cameras caught Tim Beckman and Bill Cubit engaged in a shouting match on the sidelines after the safety. Not good for Illinois right now. Not at all.
Ohio State 37, Illinois 21, 4:59 left in third quarter
Nathan Scheelhaase's helmet came off. Hence, Reilly O'Toole had to enter the game. It wasn't a good one play for the backup Illinois quarterback. He was sacked in the end zone, fumbled and only Matt LaCosse prevented a touchdown when the tight end fell on the loose ball. Either way, the Buckeyes will now get a chance to add to their lead once they get the ball back.
Ohio State 35, Illinois 21, 12:06 left in third quarter
Illinois started the second half out strong. What a surprise. Evan Wilson capped off a 9-play, 75-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Nathan Scheelhaase on a nice play-action bootleg. Illinois has kept its fan base interested to start the third quarter. And kept Ohio State from impressing most of the country so far.
Ohio State 35, Illinois 14, Halftime
Second quarter hero: V'Angelo Bentley. He made E.B. Halsey's name relevant again today. His 67-yard punt return are the only points for Illinois so far. It was the second return touchdown of the sason for Bentley, who took a kickoff back 100 yards in the season opener against Southern Illinois. Bentley's punt return was the first punt return for a touchdown by an Illinois player since E.B. Halsey returned one 41 yards against Purdue on Oct. 4, 2003.
Second quarter goat: Illinois defense. Tim Kynard had a highlight with a 13-yard sack of Braxton Miller. But Miller and Carlos Hyde continued their assault on the Illinois defense. It's not like Illinois can go sign free agents at this point in the season, so you'll see a lot more of the problems Illinois has had all season the rest of today. If you're still watching. And if you are, you deserve an award.
Second quarter thoughts: Do they really have to play a second half? If so, can they play it like a high school football game and have a running clock? Miller probably won't play much in the second half. His backup, though, isn't too shabby. Kenny Guiton has 14 touchdown passes, two interceptions and 749 yards. He'd start for at least half the Big Ten teams and lead them to a bowl game. Speaking of quarterbacks, and this was a much-discussed topic during Camp Rantoul in August, do you let Aaron Bailey play a full half once the bowl hopes fade. Well, the bowl hopes are slim, at best, so why not give the true freshman the ball in the second half and let him showcase what he can do.
Ohio State 35, Illinois 14, 2:25 left in second quarter
Defense is optional today in Champaign. Steve Hull hauled in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Nathan Scheelhaase, and the senior wideout is having another superb game for Illinois. Scheelhaase just threw his 50th career touchdown pass at Illinois. He'll need about 50 more today if Illinois wants to leave with a win. Remember, Illinois will get the ball to start the second half, so a stop here is paramount for Illinois.
Ohio State 35, Illinois 7, 5:47 left in second quarter
Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller brought Illinois back to Earth. A solid kickoff return set up the Buckeyes with good field position, and Hyde ran it in from 8 yards out to complete a six-play, 52-yard drive that took only 1:42 to complete. Urban Meyer won't show any letup today. He knows Ohio State needs a blowout win to impress the voters and computers.
Ohio State 28, Illinois 7, 7:29 left in second quarter
Something good happened for Illinois. V'Angelo Bentley proved why he's one of the top returners in the conference with his 67-yard punt return for a touchdown. He made several Ohio State defenders missed, broke a tackle around the 50-yard line and was untouched the rest of the way. Now, if only the defense can get another stop. At least Illinois won't get shutout today.
Ohio State 28, Illinois 0, 10:20 left in second quarter
Ohio State had no return man back deep for Justin DuVernois' punt, which only traveled to the Illinois 44-yard line. The Buckeyes only needed three plays to find the end zone, with Braxton Miller connecting with Corey Brown on an 11-yard touchdown pass.
And there's still more than 10 minutes left before halftime. If only there was a running clock in the second half.
Ohio State 21, Illinois 0. End of first quarter
First quarter hero: Braxton Miller. The dual-threat quarterback is showing why he was a preseason favorite to take home college football's most prestigious trophy. He could have a career day if Urban Meyer plays him the whole game. Chances are he won't see much playing time after halftime.
First quarter goat: Nathan Scheelhaase. The Illinois quarterback needs another career day for Illinois to have a chance. Throwing an interception on the first drive doesn't help matters. Neither does throwing a second one about 10 minutes later, which Bradley Roby returned 63 yards for a touchdown.
First quarter thoughts: Will any Illinois fans still be in the stands at the end of the game? Miller seems like he's playing in a video game. At least with his feet. His sidearm throws aren't going so well for the premier quarterback in the Big Ten. Red and orange don't necessarily clash well in the stands. John Groce and his team play Bradley tomorrow night at 5. I wonder if the Braves will wear red and the Illini go with orange? Illinois only has two football games left. Thankfully.
Ohio State 21, Illinois 0, 3:30 left in first quarter
Bradley Roby showed why he's one of the premier cornerbacks in the nation. He returned a deflected pass from Nathan Scheelhaase 63 yards for a touchdown. And the rout is on in Champaign.
Ohio State 14, Illinois 0, 4:55 left in first quarter
Even with Illinois getting a good punt from Justin DuVernois, a dumb return by Corey Brown and a dumb penalty by Ohio State that started the Buckeyes' drive at their own 6-yard line, Illinois' defense couldn't get off the field.
Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller ran wherever they wanted to before Hyde scored on an 18-yard touchdown swing pass from Miller. This will get uglier.
Ohio State 7, Illinois 0, 14:24 left in first quarter
Loren Tate could have ran that in for a touchdown. Braxton Miller was untouched for his 70-yard touchdown run. That took 36 seconds.
And the Buckeyes barely broke a sweat offensively on their first possession. This has the makings of a very, very long day for Illinois coach Tim Beckman's team.
Illinois won the toss and deferred to the second half. Ohio State will receive and go towards the south end zone. Where most of its fans are.
Don't be surprised if Michael Heitz starts off the game at left tackle. In warmups with the starters, Illinois had Heitz at left tackle, Alex Hill at left guard and Jake Feldmeyer at center. Still might see Austin Schmidt at left tackle, with Heitz at his typical left guard spot and Hill at center, but don't know how confident the Illinois coaches feel in having a true freshman at left tackle against Ohio State's pass rush. Can't blame them if they elect to go with the veteran Heitz.
The Ohio State band took to the field around 10:40 a.m., and a loud cheer came out a few minutes later when the selected Ohio State tuba player went to dot the I in Ohio. Ohio State fans, at least on the east balcony, easily outnumber Illinois fans right now. About the only orange you can see on the east side are the unoccupied orange chair back seats.
Of course, though, if Illinois pulls off the unthinkable and beats Ohio State today, the number of people actually in attendance will triple 20 years from now when people look back at this game. If they look back at this game at all.
Make sure to check out tomorrow's News-Gazette. We take a look at 10 of the most disappointing moments in Illinois basketball history. Loren Tate and Bob Asmussen just went through a hearty discussion of some of those moments.
30 minutes until kickoff
Had a chance to talk to Mason Monheim earlier this week. The sophomore linebacker said it has been a frustrating year for him given the struggles the defense has had.
The Orrville, Ohio native grew up rooting for the Buckeyes (his parents are Ohio State alums and who doesn't root for Ohio State that lives in Ohio?). He sees himself as a leader of the Illinois defense, and after Jonathan Brown goes off to the NFL, he'll assume that title even more during the 2014 season.
He has a calm personality off the field and has adapted well to his increased leadership role this year. I remember talking to him in August before Illinois left for Camp Rantoul, and pulling answers out of him was a tad challenging. He's opened up quite a bit more throughout the year, and is on pace to have a better season this year stat-wise than he accumulated during his true freshman season.
Go here to find out more about Monheim as he was our weekly Q&A guest.
Shockingly (note the sarcasm) no one in our panel of eight experts picked Illinois to beat Ohio State. Probably no one in the country — outside of Illinois' locker room — thinks the Illini can win.
Gave props to former Illinois offensive lineman Martin O'Donnell's comment he had in our picks that were in Friday's News-Gazette.
For all those who don't think offensive linemen can speak well, O'Donnell puts that stereotype to rest.
He's a big fan of Stanford's offense, which is heavy on a pro-style offense and offensive linemen run-blocking.
"If I get a sentence or two, I'm going to take full advantage of it," O'Donnell said. "I love Stanford's offense."
And the best part of our Live! report. Picks from the assembled Illinois media that congregated inside the Memorial Stadium press box.
I went with Ohio State 59, Illinois 17 in Friday's News-Gazette. Sticking with it, too. I just don't think there's any way Illinois' defense can contain Ohio State's potent offense.
Bob Asmussen, The News-Gazette: Ohio State 54, Illinois 0
Chris Hine, Chicago Tribune: Ohio State 55, Illinois 17
Steve Greenberg, Chicago Sun-Times: Ohio State 50, Illinois 7
Mark Tupper, Decatur Herald & Review: Ohio State 63, Illinois 10
Jamal Collier, Gatehouse Media: Ohio State 56, Illinois 10
Fletcher Page, Scout.com: Ohio State 59, Illinois 13
Taylor Rooks, Scout.com: Ohio State 63, Illinois 14
Jeremy Werner, ESPN C-U: Ohio State 63, Illinois 10
Loren Tate predicts there will be no surprising recruiting news regarding Illinois basketball today.
For those watching on ESPN, where Dave Pasch and Brian Griese handle the call, there will be a lot of empty seats in the stands. A lot.
And expect to see more red in attendance than orange. One Ohio State media member said he wouldn't be shocked if between 15,000 and 20,000 Ohio State fans showed up. Or more.
Ohio State's band just made its way onto the field around 10:25 a.m., so expect to have both bands performing at halftime.
60 minutes until kickoff
Both Illinois and Ohio State specialists are out warming up. With the way the wind is blowing today, Bob Asmussen said an 80-yard field goal would be possible. Doubt that transpires, but it is a tad breezy here in Champaign.
Not too cold, though, so that's a bonus. Although Asmussen just ventured back down to our row in the press box and offered up, "I don't know about you, but I'm freezing my butt off."
The seat is warm for Tim Beckman here in Champaign, but not at all for Urban Meyer. The two-time national title winner has done nothing but win since he arrived at Ohio State while Beckman has done almost the exact opposite.
“Everybody kind of knows just what he brings to the table and what his resume has shown,” Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase said. “There’s not much bad you can say about him as a coach just based on what he’s done and how he’s done it. They were pretty darn good under Coach Tressel and you knew they were going to get right back up to that level of play, if not higher, with Coach Meyer.”
Find out more about Meyer right here.
Plenty of Ohio roots are on Illinois' roster. Eighteen players from the Buckeye state find their names on Beckman's team, including several starters. On second thought, it is a tad cold here in the press box right now. Media problems.
Be back in a half hour.
90 minutes until kickoff
For those still waiting to head up to Memorial Stadium, expect a bit of a traffic delay if you're heading down Springfield Avenue. An early-morning fire at a local restaurant will cause some alternate routes for drivers. Click here to find out more from our veteran reporter Mary Schenk.
And Nathan Scheelhaase won't have his father in attendance today or the senior day game against Northwestern on Nov. 30. Our Patrick Wade has a full report here about Nate Creer's appeal on his one-year ban of campus following his arrest during the Michigan State game at Memorial Stadium on Oct. 26.
Illinois will have a handful of important Class of 2015 recruiting targets in town for today's game. Chief among them Benet Academy quarterback Jack Beneventi, one of Illinois' top quarterback targets in that particular class.
Beneventi, St. Xavier (Ohio) defensive tackle Simeon Lane, Olentangy (Ohio) Liberty offensive lineman Hunter Littlejohn and Northville (Mich.) offensive lineman David Moorman are several of the bigger names, along with Class of 2016 running back Kentrail Moran from O'Fallon.
Plenty of Illinois commits in the Class of 2014 have state quarterfinal playoff games today, with Lincoln-Way East center Nick Allegretti and his Griffins playing down at Edwardsville this afternoon in a 7A game, Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin wide receiver Malik Turner and his Cyclones hosting Highland in a 5A game, Chicago Mt. Carmel running back Matt Domer and his Caravan playing at Downers Grove North in a 7A game and Neuqua Valley wideout Mike Dudek and his Wildcats playing at Naperville Central tonight in an 8A game.
Another Illinois commit, Blue Valley (Kan.) linebacker Henry McGrew, will have a chance to play for a state title next Friday. McGrew and his team won a Class 5A state quarterfinal game last night against Mill Valley (Kan.) High School.
Be back in a half hour.
Two hours until kickoff
Good morning college football fans. Matt Daniels here for the next six hours or so. It's a gray, blustery morning here in Champaign. There is a chance of rain, too. No, Cliff Alexander and Quentin Snider didn't have anything to do with the forecast. But it best captures the mood of how the Illinois fan base is feeling after Friday's disappointing recruiting news.
Almost 18 hours since Alexander picked Kansas and 24 hours since Snider flipped from Illinois back to his hometown Louisville team, it's still a huge talking point of discussion around these parts of the country.
For Ohio State fans, they're not enamored with Thad Matta's season yet. That's what happens when you're team is in the mix for a spot in the BCS title game compared to Illinois, who is trying to stay out of the bottom of the Big Ten Leaders division again.
We can discuss recruiting on here if you'd like. But I'm switching gears to what will transpire out there on the Memorial Stadium turf in two hours. Urban Meyer and his Buckeyes checked into the Holiday Inn in Urbana around 6 p.m. last night. No walkthrough at Memorial Stadium in Meyer's first game as a head coach in Champaign. Not that his Buckeyes will necessarily need that. The main topic the Ohio State media wanted to address last night with Meyer was how they're dealing with Alabama and Florida State being ahead of them in the BCS standings.
Here is what Meyer had to say, along with other tidbits related to today's game, including a special helmet the Illini will wear to honor the 10 former Illinois players who died in the Vietnam War and World War II. Tim Beckman told me this summer he wanted to do more to recognize the military, and he is. The Illinois players walked into Memorial Stadium around 8:40 a.m., gathered for a short prayer at midfield and all the players came in wearing the camouflage hats the coaches will wear today.
"Maybe Ohio State won't know they're playing," our very own Bob Asmussen said.
Good to have Bob — and his witty humor — back in place. This is his sixth game this season, his health is improving every day and he hasn't lost his good-natured personality.
Caught up with Chris Spielman earlier this week to talk about all things related to the job Meyer has done since he's arrived in Columbus. Beckman has vivid memories of playing against Spielman when both were in high school in Ohio in the early 1980s.
Even jokes that he helped Spielman become the first-ever high school athlete to appear on a Wheaties box. Spielman and his Washington High School team in Massillon, Ohio, knocked off Beckman’s Berea High School in a 1982 state semifinal game.
“I felt I helped him do that because he had about 200 yards rushing and about 20 tackles,” Beckman said with a laugh. “I think I had eight or nine tackles, but he was pretty good.”
Be back in a half hour or so with another update. Going to jump on WDWS with Steve Kelly and Loren Tate to talk a lot of basketball recruiting and maybe even a little football.