Senior running back Carlos Hyde rushed for 248 yards while junior quarterback Braxton Miller gained 184 yards on the ground and threw for another 150 as No. 3 Ohio State defeated Illinois, 60-35, at Memorial Stadium in Champaign on Saturday.
The Buckeyes jumped out to a 28-0 lead as Miller tossed two touchdown passes and ran for another on a 70-yard scamper on the third play from scrimmage just 36 seconds into the contest. The fourth TD of the game was at the 10:20 mark of the second quarter after Miller connected with Philly Brown on an 11-yard TD strike.
Just when it appeared that the rout was on, Illinois’ defense forced Ohio State to a three-and-out. Then 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 and off the mat.
Both teams added scoring drives that resulted in touchdowns as Hyde scored on an eight-yard run with 5:47 to go for the Buckeyes, and Nathan Scheelhaase threw a 19-yard TD pass to Steve Hull with 2:25 left before intermission for the Fighting Illini.
At the half, Ohio State led 35-21.
To begin the third quarter, Illinois went on a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped off on a 1-yard TD pass from Scheelhaase to Evan Wilson to make it 35-21.
During Ohio State’s next chance with the pigskin, the Buckeyes drove to the Illinois’ 35 yard line, but on the eighth play Miller fumbled and it was recovered by the Illini.
From there, both teams traded punts before Illinois found themselves pinned at their own 9. On first-and-10, Scheelhaase completed a pass that netted just a yard. On second-and-9 from the 10, Scheelhaase was chased out of the pocket by Ohio State’s Tommy Schutt and threw the ball away. The problem for the Illni, though, was that Scheelhaase’s helmet came off on that play, meaning he had to sit out one. On third-and-14 from the 5 after a false start penalty, backup Riley O’Toole was sacked by Ryan Shazier in the end zone and the fumble was recovered by Illinois for a safety.
Following the free kick from the 20, the Buckeyes marched 55 yards in four plays that resulted in a 1-yard TD run by Hyde with 4:01 left in the third that put Ohio State ahead 44-21.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Illini scored 14 unanswered points on two rushing touchdowns, one by Scheelhaase and another from Josh Ferguson that made it a two-possession game at 47-35 with 8:49 remaining.
A little more than two minutes later at the 6:44 mark of the fourth, Illinois had the ball still trailing by 12. But the Illini could only muster 13 yards on 13 plays during their last three possessions of the contest. Meanwhile. Hyde scored on TD runs of 51 yards and 55 yards to make the final score 60-35 in favor of the Buckeyes.
Though Miller rushed for 184 yards, he was just 13-of-29 passing for 150 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions on a blustery day in Champaign.
“It played a pretty big effect on the passing game because the wind is so tricky at times,” Miller said after the game. “I think it was around 25 miles per hour. I throw a pretty decent deep ball and the last one I threw was five or 10 yards in front, so we tried to focus on short passes.”
Ohio State held an edge in most of the final statistics that include first downs (25-24), rushing yards (441-132), and total yards (591-420). But the Buckeyes were just 4-of-13 in third down conversions while the Illini were 7-of-18. At times, the OSU defense had trouble getting off the field.
Up next, Ohio State hosts Indiana this Saturday. Kickoff at Ohio Stadium is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised on ABC with a reverse mirror on ESPN2.