Illinois Debriefing: Buckeyes Hammer Illini 55-14 to Keep Illibuck

By Michael Citro on November 2, 2014 at 9:15 am
Devin Smith scores the first of his two touchdowns against Illinois.

Ohio State welcomed Illinois to the Shoe last night, looking for a bounce-back game after an overtime adventure in Happy Valley a week ago. The Buckeyes had to get quarterback J.T. Barrett comfortable again after a subpar outing and a knee injury against the Nittany Lions.

Tim Beckman brought his Fighting Illini to Columbus in desperate need of an upset win to put some shine on a season that isn’t doing much to save his job. Illinois put up a decent win last week against Minnesota, and Beckman’s group was looking to build on it with a decent offense and an improving defense.

Would Ohio State get a lead early and rest its gimpy quarterback? Could the offense bounce back from a subpar performance at Penn State? Would the defense continue where it left off in Happy Valley? Could Ohio State keep the Illibuck?

Yes, yes, yes and oh God, yes. Barrett didn’t see the field after halftime. The Buckeye ‘O’ rolled for more than 500 yards and 50 points (again) and could have done even more had the defense not created short field with so many turnovers. Speaking of the defense, there were 11 tackles for loss, four takeaways (two interceptions and two fumble recoveries), three sacks, three quarterback hurries, big hits and the starters held Illinois under 150 yards before departing (243 total). And the Illibuck gets to stay in Columbus. Again.

Here are your Penn State game talking points:

Water Cooler prep (Everything you need to know…in one paragraph)

Barrett took a little while to settle in, overthrowing some early passes, but he finished 15/24 for 167 yards, two touchdowns—both to Devin Smith—and no interceptions. He ran seven times for 38 yards. Ezekiel Elliott didn’t start, but tallied nine rushes for 69 yards. Curtis Samuel started and ran nine times for 63 yards and two scores. Cardale Jones played well in relief, finishing 5/10 for 82 yards and two touchdowns and adding seven carries for 47 yards in an easy 55-14 win.

Talk before the game  

“Time to get the offense back on track.”

“Alternate uniforms against Illinois? Oh my God, they’re our rivals.”

Checking in on J.T. Barrett’s health:

And good news for science fiction nerds, like me:

Talk in the aftermath

“Illibuck stays home!”

 “See ya later, Tim Beckman.”

“It’s officially Michigan State week.”

“Bring on Sparty!”

(There was an awful lot of talk about Michigan State)

Give that man a buckeye leaf (Player of the game)

This was a tough one because the starters didn’t play very long. I’m going to go with Steve Miller, who played in the Illinois backfield a lot, set the edge well on outside runs, made several bone crushing hits, and forced a fumble on a sack. He set a career high with three tackles for loss, equaling Bosa's three on the night and finished with four tackles (all solo stops).

Did you see that?! (Play of the game)

Last night’s game was full of good plays, but fairly devoid of special ones. Miller and Tyvis Powell each forced fumbles. Curtis Grant and Darron Lee both grabbed ricochet interceptions off of the wide receiver. In the end, garbage time or not, you just can’t beat a very large man going airborne. We didn’t give it to him at Maryland, so we owed him. Hats off to Cardale Jones.

Slobber Knocker of the Game

Miller and Raekwon McMillan both nearly laid claim to this with ferocious hits. But Jones gets the daily double for a hit on high school teammate V’Angelo Bentley. Jones had the ball slip out of his hand during a third-quarter pass but the officials didn’t blow the play dead. Bentley scooped up the ball and started running, only to be laid low by a (very large) quarterback. The ruling was correctly overturned to an incomplete pass after replay, but Jones’ hit will stand forever.

Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment of the game

Tressel’s kiln was fiery hot and he was a pottery machine, churning out a series of vases and pots to give as Christmas gifts to friends and loved ones. He always gives the holidays that personal touch by creating all of his presents by hand. His mitts covered in clay, he watched in disgust on a second quarter kickoff as Camren Williams was flagged for a late hit out of bounds. “Tsk, tsk,” he muttered as he created a beautiful pattern in a spinning vase with a butter knife. Three plays later, Ohio State appeared to stop Illinois and force a punt, but Joey Bosa was nailed for another late hit, giving the Illini a free first down. Tressel picked up his creation, crushed it back into a single blob of clay and spiked it on the floor.  

When you sank into your chair (The moment Buckeye football disgraced your family)

Not gonna lie, I hated allowing losing the shutout. When the Fighting Illini squeaked out a late third quarter touchdown—following bad back-to-back penalties on McMillan—I slammed my hand down on the arm of my chair, scaring the hell out of my cat, who ran upstairs.

What you texted your friend at the end of each quarter

First: “Nice lead, but J.T. doesn’t look very good right now.”

Second: “OK Urbz, now let’s give J.T. the night off.”

Third: “Lost the shutout. :(”

Fourth: “Sparty is a week away and I’m already nervous.”

It was over when

It was probably earlier, but all doubt of the game being over was erased on Barrett’s second touchdown pass to Smith, with just 20 seconds remaining in the first half. It allowed Urban Meyer to rest his starting quarterback and get a lot of backups on the field in the second half.

It’s the game we’ve all been waiting for, ever since Tom Herman didn’t give the ball to Carlos Hyde enough. The rematch against Sparty takes place next Saturday night. Michigan State had a bye this week because obviously, and in its last outing it won the Mitten State clash against That Team Up North, 35-11. Here’s hoping for a better result in East Lansing than we saw in Indy.

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