This is a partial list of teams that surrendered fewer yards to the Illini than the Buckeyes did Saturday: Louisiana-Lafayette, Iowa and Western Michigan. So it was curious that the Buckeye defense, which had been peaking, was carved up so easily in Champaign.
Granted, it was the Big Ten's top offense and they're powered by a guy that can do some incredible things with the ball. But it appeared as if there was some sort of informal competition to see who could rack up the most missed tackles in the first half.
Credit the Buckeye defense for making solid halftime adjustments, though. And when you step back and look at their performance, they were just a little elastic, that's all. They held when it mattered and forced big plays when they needed to. Oh, and add Tyler Moeller to that list of players you can't wait to see next year.
What I love about this sequence is that no matter how old Tressel gets, he'll never need any type of male enhancement tech. All he'll need to do is loop these three minutes of the game. A booming punt from your own territory, leading to a field position edge. Then the fumble on the very next play. Five runs later and the Buckeyes had the first lead of the day. That's Tresselball smut.
With the line of scrimmage the 23, Trapasso fields the snap at his own seven. Zook puts 10 on the line, but does not go for the block.
Benn is driven back on the 58 yard blast with Chekwa and Lane trucking on coverage.
He finally fields the ball at his own 18 and Lane and Chekwa are there to force him out for no gain.
Juice starts the next play by pulling the inside handoff to Ford. Moeller, coming on a blitz, and Gibson are closing from different sides.
Thaddeus Maximus still thinks the ball is going inside while Moeller is already suspect of Juice's intentions.
Moeller quickly picks up on the trickery and gives chase while Freeman runs right by the wide receiver on the right side of the Illini line.
With Freeman closing, Moeller makes the hit jarring the ball loose. Only four plays into his first significant playing time, he's serving notice that his name will be called frequently in years to come.
Who else? Nader with the fumble recovery. Just like that, the Buckeyes are in the red zone.
Cumberland's Shoestring Snag
After the Buckeyes had gone up 7-0, Illinois marched down the field behind some nice runs out of Dufrene and found themselves in a 3rd and 6 from the Ohio State 7 yard line. If you're not a fan of zone defenses, please turn away.
Ohio State comes out in a nickel and Washington spots something he really likes.
Seeing this, Juice calls Will Judson into motion to that side of the field.
Dufrene stays in to block and the Illinois line does a good job of stuffing the Buckeye four-man rush.
Cumberland makes a hell of a catch working the back of the zone. The nearest defender, Coleman, is four yards away.
Another look. Hats off.
Jenkins Gets His Second
Illinois had moved quickly to tie the game and the Buckeyes were forced to punt on their next possession. Trapasso did a great job of pinning the Illini inside their own 10 and after a three-and-out, Jenkins comes through for his 2nd punt block of the season. Ohio State was suddenly up 9-7 and getting the ball back.
With Jenkins coming hard off of his right edge, punter Anthony Santella decides to get his stride-on.
Sabino gets penetration up the middle, joining the block party.
Had Sabino not been held, perhaps this would have been his block.
Dave Pasch kept insisting it was Grant, but the definitive proof is Jenkins waving his tender pimp hand.
Coleman's Clutch Interception
After the Buckeyes scored to go up 16-7, Illinois marched right back down the field thanks to some nice throws from Juice and a little bit of hurry-up offense. They soon found themselves in a 2nd and 10 at the Ohio State 12 yard line.
Andre Ware sees the blitz from the booth and Juice looked like he did as well.
Moeller is able to come clean off the edge and Juice starts to step up into the pocket.
Because McGee hasn't come out of his break yet, Juice is forced to throw to Benn who is being bracketed by Freeman and Coleman. It might have worked had Moeller not delivered the hit right when the throw was made.
Coleman comes over the top of Benn to make the interception.
Oops. Tackle Jeff Allen does a good job of stripping the ball from Coleman on the return, but Freeman covers it up.