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Buckeyes blast Illini

November 4, 2012
By JIM NAVEAU - Special to the Herald-Star

COLUMBUS - Ohio State scored 52 points, its offense rolled up 567 yards in a 52-22 win over Illinois on Saturday and quarterback Braxton Miller added another impressive game to a long list of outstanding efforts.

And yet it wasn't enough. At least it wasn't enough for one man. And Urban Meyer gets the final word when it comes to Ohio State football.

"We still have some weaknesses," Meyer said after OSU dominated the last three quarters against an Illinois team which has many more weaknesses than strengths.

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The victory was the tenth in a row for No. 6 Ohio State (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten). Illinois (2-7, 0-5) lost its eleventh Big Ten game in a row.

Miller completed 12 of 20 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 73 yards and another touchdown. Running back Carlos Hyde gained 137 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns, and freshman Bri'onte Dunn rushed for a career-best 73 yards on 13 carries, all late in the game.

Meyer's push for perfection is centered on Miller's passing. He says his sophomore quarterback still needs to improve his drop-back passing.

"The area we're not efficient enough in is the drop-back pass. While he's not a drop-back passer, we have to be," Meyer said. "We're still a work in progress. We're still working and grinding and pushing because at some point we have to become a balanced team."

After a slow start, which saw the Buckeyes lead only 7-6 after one quarter, the imbalance between the Big Ten's only unbeaten team and what might be its worst team became obvious.

OSU scored on its first four possessions of the second quarter three touchdowns and a field goal to take a 31-6 lead at halftime. After that, it was just a matter of finishing what they started.

Meyer's relentless drive for perfection, even after a dominating performance, is something OSU's players understand wide receiver Corey Brown said.

"No one will ever be able to satisfy Coach Meyer to his standards," Brown said. "He holds us to such high standards and he should."

Illinois coach Tim Beckman probably wishes he had a player like Miller to try to hold to high standards.

"Braxton Miller is a fantastic football player. He fuels this Ohio State team with his ability to make guys miss and that is how he hurt us today," Beckman said. "He also made big plays with his arm and exposed some coverage issues in our secondary."

Ohio State's defense also exposed some issues in Illinois' offense. The Illini had only 170 yards total offense.

Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was the Illini's leading rusher with 36 yards on 15 attempts and he completed 19 of 34 passes for 96 yards, an average of only 2.8 yards per attempt.

With a 31-6 halftime lead at halftime, Ohio State had removed all doubt before the game even got to the third quarter.

The Buckeyes scored 21 points in the final 9 minutes, 11 seconds of the first half to put Illinois into a familiar position on the wrong end of a blowout.

Illinois started the scoring with a 43-yard field goal by Nick Immelkus halfway through the first quarter.

Ohio State answered that score with a 10-play, 79-yard drive that ended with Hyde getting the first of his three touchdowns in the first half on a 3-yard run.

Illinois narrowed the scored to 7-6 on a 28-yard field goal by Immelkus with 38 seconds to play in the first quarter before OSU scored on its first four possessions of the second quarter.

The Buckeyes did not score on their first and last possessions of the first half, but scored on five in a row in between those two.

A 31-yard field goal by Drew Basil made it a 10-6 game. Hyde's 5-yard touchdown run at the end of 64-yard drive pushed the Buckeyes' lead to 17-6.

Then Miller connected with running back Rod Smith on a 51-yard scoring pass for a 24-6 lead. It was only the third catch of Smith's college career. He caught two passes for 15 yards last season and did not catch any as a freshman. His previous long catch was for 10 yards.

After a short punt set OSU up at midfield, Hyde's 3-yard run made it 31-6. Illinois cut the lead to 38-14 before a 2-yard touchdown run by Miller and a 37-yard Miller to Brown touchdown pass made it 45-14 early in the fourth quarter.

Illinois' Ashante Williams picked up a bad pitchout by backup quarterback Kenny Guiton and took it 77 yards for a touchdown and Dunn scored on a 3-yard run for the final two scores of the game.

Meyer pointed to the performance of OSU's offensive line and defensive line as the biggest reason for the Buckeyes' dominance against Illinois.

"I thought after a slow start the offensive and defensive lines took over the game. If you do that without turning over the ball, usually you'll win," he said.

Ohio State is off this week before finishing its season with a game at Wisconsin on Nov. 17 and a home game against Michigan on Nov. 24.

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