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Last updated: 11/06/2012 4:35 AM
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Buckeye Watch - Illinois
By Tony Gerdeman

The Buckeyes dominated the Illini from start to finish, even if the scoreboard didn't necessarily say so until the second quarter.

Braxton Miller threw the ball as well as he's done all season long, which is exactly what his coaches wanted to see. He was decisive, and for the most part he was on target. He did so well in the passing game that his running wasn't as necessary as it usually is.

But it wasn't just Miller's passing that negated the need for his running, it was also because of the running of Carlos Hyde. Early in the season, the Buckeyes needed Miller to be their everything. Right now, he's more of a complement to Hyde, which is a tremendous compliment to Hyde.

Did you just see that word usage!

Anyway, the offense was pretty good and the defense was as good as it needed to be, and that's probably downplaying the impact that they had in this game. Nathan Scheelhaase was always on the move, and it wasn't always voluntary.

Illinois is terrible, but they at least provided an opportunity for the Buckeyes to gain a little more confidence.

2:31 In the interest of full disclosure, I am home sick right now. Some of my thoughts may be as overly-medicated as I am right now.

3:14 I'm starting Braxton Miller this week, so I apologize for his poor performance in advance.

3:21 The Ohio Stadium scoreboard has lost power. Hopefully that means it has also lost music. Of course, that just means more 'Seven Nation Army' from the student section. Hopefully they're late arriving as usual.

3:26 Uh oh, Twitter tells me that the wifi is now down in the press box. This is almost as bad as an e. coli outbreak in the hotdogs.

3:30 Close call. The power is back on. Glad I missed the Lord of the Flies of the Press Box.

3:31 Joey Galloway calls Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde “Thunder and Lightning”. That's classic. I've never heard that before. I call them “Flash Flood and Gusty Winds”. It has not caught on.

3:33 Great shot of the Olentangy River. I think I see a shopping cart sticking out of the muck.

3:35 The Buckeyes are kicking off. I assume that means they won the toss. Nice big hit by Orhian Johnson where there initially was a hole.

3:36 Wow. John Simon starts the game by blowing through unblocked and sacking Scheelhaase. Actually, that was a zone read and they won't call it a sack. That will make the offensive line look better statistically, but they were still just as embarrassed on national television.

3:38 Illinois goes three and out, and the punt goes out of bounds at the 33-yard line.

3:39 Braxton Miller starts the game by getting sacked for a two-yard loss. Sorry, too late for me to bench him now. Team Awesome rides with Miller.

3:40 Third and seven. Miller gets sacked by Glenn Foster and Mason Monheim. Had a receiver over the middle, but couldn't pull the trigger. That was a three-man rush with a linebacker blitz and two guys got to Miller. That's not stellar pass protection.

3:41 Here comes the punt. Whoa. That was close to being blocked. Unblocked man came through right into Buchanan's steps. Well, at least they figured out how to handle the unblocked man – get lucky.

3:44 Illinois goes into the diamond formation. Nathan Williams comes crashing down and tackles Nathan Scheelhaase in the backfield, paying no attention to the fake handoff at all. That play simply took too much time, and Williams didn't help matters by not even worrying about the tailback. Kill the quarterback and the rest of the offense will die as well.

3:46 Donovonn Young gets no gain on the carry. Johnathan Hankins and Ryan Shazier brought him down with their “Bad Cop, Bad Cop” routine.

Third and three. Pistol formation with four wide. Scheelhaase is changing the play. Now everybody on defense is moving around as well. The throw is incomplete to Ryan Lankford, but there's a flag for pass interference on Christian Bryant. It wouldn't be a football game without a penalty on Bryant, now would it?

3:49 A screen pass to Darius Millines picks up nine yards. Now Millines is talking junk to Big Hank. Somebody might want to conduct a concussion test on Millines, because he must have a serious brain injury.

3:51 Illinois' drive stalls and has left them with a 42-yard field goal attempt. Now here comes an offensive lineman in late with the clock running down, and the kicker still nails it. They almost called a timeout because they didn't have enough blockers. So that's the kind of day it's going to be, eh? 3-0 Illinois.

3:52 Is this the standard “OSU answer” drive coming up next?

3:55 Carlos Hyde takes it on the wide read and picks up 19 yards like it was nothing. Now he has to come out, so apparently it wasn't nothing.

3:55 Rod Smith goes for five yards up the middle. Two hands on the ball at all times. Protect what is most meaningful to you.

3:57 The Buckeyes are running the ball well. Time for a play-action pass here? Yep. Miller finds Stoneburner wide open down the sideline for about 23 yards. The offense was sucking the defense in, and then finally went for the throat. Actually, not really the throat. More like a punch in the thigh. That should become a new sports cliché. When somebody throws a modestly deep pass early in the game, that's “punching the thigh” from now on. Somebody alert Wikipedia and the Urban Dictionary.

3:59 Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown is hurt. That's not good for Illinois' chances. Especially on this play, as the Buckeyes run the QB counter and Braxton picks up eleven yards and takes it down to the Illinois eight-yard line. That's just not fair. That's like attacking a freshman defensive back right out of the gate.

4:00 First and goal from the eight-yard line. Miller keeps it on a nice read and breaks out two jukes in an attempt to help Team Awesome's playoff push. He is brought down three yards short of the endzone. No doubt he is as upset about this as I am. Possibly more, but I doubt it.

4:00 Touchdown Carlos Hyde. Of course. Three-yard TD run. That's the standard answer that we have come to expect this season. Buckeyes lead it 7-3.

4:01 That was uptempo and Miller again made some good reads. That last one was a straight handoff though. Just keep doing more of that and the play-action will be even deadlier.

4:04 Kickoff goes to the goal line and Terry Hawthorne takes it out to the Illinois 46-yard line. He took it to the side of the field opposite the defenders. Teams haven't been able to do that at all this year because the coverage has been too good. Can't make a habit of that.

4:06 Late hit on Christian Bryant gives Illinois the ball at the 20-yard line. I wonder who leads the Big Ten in penalties. Bryant has to be up there in yardage.

4:09 Second and goal from the nine-yard line. Wide sweep and Zach Boren tracks Young down for no gain just like a middle linebacker is supposed to do. That was a beautiful thing to watch, and something that probably wouldn't have happened until recently.

4:10 Third and goal. Now it's time for a Boren interception. Scramble. John Simon with the pressure and it's nearly intercepted by Orhian Johnson. Would have been an amazing grab. I think he got the wind knocked out of him with the over extension. I remember asking players back in 2010 who the best athlete on the team was, and the answers were either Terrelle Pryor or Orhian Johnson, and you just saw why on that play.

4:11 Illinois gets the 28-yard field goal. Buckeyes still lead it 7-6. No biggie. Don't get worried. This isn't Purdue yet. Tim Beckman doesn't even have a mustache. There's really nothing to worry about. Though if he comes out for the second half with a mustache, then you might want to get worried.

4:15 Miller drops back, takes off, fires it to Nick Vannett and it's out of bounds. Ooh, that looked close. They're gonna review it. He definitely got the left foot down, but I don't know if it came before the right foot was out of bounds. Actually, I think that's a catch. The ruling is confirmed, it's incomplete. Now I'm more sure than ever that it was a catch. If the B1G officials are that positive that he wasn't in, then I'm that positive that he was.

4:16 That leaves the Buckeyes with a third and ten. Miller picks up twelve yards on the quarterback draw. Easy yards. There is no such thing as third and long with Braxton Miller. Next week Miller will be asked why the Buckeyes are so good on third and long, and Miller will be like, “What's 'third and long'?” And they'll say, “You know, it's a third down where you just run a draw or a counter for ten or fifteen yards.” And he'll say, “Oh, you mean 'Fun Time Happy Snap'? Yeah, those are great.”

4:17 Miller rolls out and loses a yard via a throwback screen to Nick Vannett. The first quarter comes to an end with the Buckeyes leading it 7-6. Now they are free to score at a more jerkish pace.

4:22 Third and three. Two backs in the triple option look. Miller keeps it, then pitches it to Rod Smith who breaks a tackle and picks up six or seven  yards. He got his bell rung, but he doesn't seem to mind. I wasn't sure Miller should have pitched that one, but credit Smith for making a play that really wasn't there to be made.

4:23 First and ten. Play-action pass, Miller is doing deep to Vannett and punches the thigh down to the 16-yard line! Wow, that's pretty pretty. What a punch of the thigh that was. Right in the ol' thigh. Also, two notches above punching the thigh is “going for the femoral”. It's like “going for the jugular”, but less personal.

4:24 Oof. They just tried to run the option shovel, but it was covered. That's Kenny Guiton's play anyway. They got NO BUSINESS running it with Braxton Miller! That is gimmick infringement!

4:24 Third and eight from the 14-yard line. Joey Galloway wants to run the ball. I can understand that, but Braxton Miller is a quarterback, so you have to let him throw it every now and again. Miller drops back and throws an absolutely terrible pass to Michael Thomas. Man, they should have ran it there! Urban Meyer isn't happy either.

4:25 Drew Basil hits the 31-yard field goal. Who would have thought that field goals could be so inconsequential to a football program? Buckeyes lead it 10-6.

4:30 Third and seven. Beth Mowins: “Buckeyes in the nickel, they've got a fourth defensive back in there.” Yeah. Scheelhaase finds Millines for six yards. Shazier stops him for his eighth tackle. Illinois will punt.

4:35 First and ten. Speed option, Miller keeps it for 14 yards before running out of bounds like a coward! (I'm only joking, but there are people out there who actually believe this. You must find them, point them out, and perhaps vandalize their automobiles.)

4:36 Another first down play-action pass, Miller finds Philly Brown at the 20-yard line and he races it inside the five-yard line. Great pocket for Miller, who has thrown some very nice looking passes today. Aside from the one to Michael Thomas that almost made Urban Meyer say a swear word!

4:47 First and goal. Carlos Hyde touchdown. That's pretty easy. Great push up the middle by the interior. Guess what, the hurry up works again. Reid Fragel paved the way for Hyde. 17-6 Buckeyes.

4:42 Big Hank runs Scheelhaase out of bounds for a loss of four on the QB sweep. Always good when your 330-pound defensive tackle can stay with the opposition's mobile quarterback. Oh, and there's also a chop block. That's a drive killer. Can't remember a year with so many chop blocks.

4:44 Third and 27 from their own nine-yard line. Now Scheelhaase is changing the play, because obviously the defense the Buckeyes are in is more susceptible to a different 27-yard play call. He scrambles to the 15-yard line, but there's a holding call. That will be declined as long as it didn't happen in the endzone. Chance to block a punt here. They get it off, however, and Philly Brown returns it for 13 yards.

4:46 Troy Smith says Braxton will be the greatest QB to ever come through Ohio State on the very play where he nearly throws a very bad interception. But he's absolutely right.

4:47 Hyde picks up nine yards. They are blasting these guys. They gave him ten? Not sure about that spot. Doesn't change the fact that Hyde is pummeling jokers. Maybe the bad spot was just to make sure the Illinois defense didn't have to deal with Hyde on a second and short play.

4:47 First and ten. Another play-action. Miller rolls out, he's going deep on the wheel route for a touchdown to Rod Smith! If you don't love the wheel route, there is something wrong with you. That's just a beautiful play. And Rod is happy. They just showed Buck-I Guy thrusting his gut in the camera's face. How is that allowed on basic cable? I shudder to think of the number of Juggalos that he just impregnated with those moves. Buckeyes lead it 24-6.

4:54 Third and ten. Pressure from Simon and Christian Bryant drops an easy interception. It has not been Bryant's best day. Joey Galloway just said that “Christian Bryant struggles to catch the ball.” Yes, he struggles to catch the ball the way a dolphin with walleye vision would struggle to catch a football. Also on land.

4:55 Illinois punts. It's another terrible shank. An 18-yard punt. Maybe Bryant's drop isn't so bad now.

4:56 QB counter, Miller makes two players miss before spinning out of a third tackle. He picks up eleven yards and I have to laugh as Miller gets up smiling.

4:57 Hyde picks up ten yards up the middle, per usual. Blah blah blah. Ten yards. Blah blah. Breaks a tackle. Busts the middle like parents coming home early from a long weekend and finding a party in their house. Carlos just grounded the Illinois defense for three weeks. And no television! DON'T YOU TALK BACK TO HIM!

4:58 Miller drops back, avoids a sack, takes off, sets up a move and spins again for ten yards. He gets up laughing.  When Braxton Miller is laughing at you, that's not a good sign for the defense. That has to be disheartening. It's bad enough trying to tackle the guy one-on-one, but when you miss and he gets up laughing, that's just the worst.

4:59 Hyde gets it on first and goal from the four-yard line and kicks it wide and runs on in for the touchdown. That is his third touchdown and it is infuriating me! Buckeyes lead it 31-6. Braxton Miller is currently on pace for 300 yards passing and 150 yards rushing. I bet he doesn't get it.

5:03 Oof. Huge hit by Orhian Johnson, and he's down and knocked loopy. No gain on the play, but that's a wallop. He called for the trainers immediately. He could have just wrapped him up, you know.

5:05 Scheelhaase rolls out, and is picked off by Travis Howard! He's got a wall of blockers, and he's down at the ten-yard line with 37 seconds to play. There's a flag though. Tripping on Nathan Williams. Ouch. Meyer is not happy with that either. Somebody is going to have to pay.

5:06 The penalty puts the ball back at Ohio State's 49-yard line. First down for the Buckeyes. Illinois tries to give some of it back by throwing Miller down after he's already out of bounds. Such a smart football team those Illini. Wait, it's not a personal foul? It's a sideline warning? They say it's five yards, then don't assess any yardage. What?

5:09 The Buckeyes waste the possession with some incomplete deep throws, but Nathan Williams' penalty killed this touchdown opportunity. I'm not sure Miller needed to go for the home run each snap though. The Ben Buchanan punt dies at the Illinois 29-yard line.

5:11 Scheelhaase picks up three yards to end the half. The Buckeyes lead it 31-6.

5:12 I don't think I've ever seen anybody as unhappy as Urban Meyer is to be up 31-6. But that's just how bad Illinois is.

5:14 Well, time to go enjoy a slice of bread and a cup of water. It's not quite brisket and hot dogs, but right now it's plenty.

5:23 I'll tell you what, though, unless you're an offensive or defensive coordinator, watching Illinois won't make anybody feel better. If you don't mind, I'm just going to rest my head until the second half starts.

5:33 Back to action. Buckeyes come out with another play-action on first down and Jake Stoneburner drops it. I should go back and check the success rate on first down passes today because I think it's been pretty good.

5:35 Third and six. And it's dropped by Stoneburner again. Maybe go to Vannett instead. Zach Smith said he expected this to be Stoneburner's best game as a Buckeye, but I'm guessing it won't qualify. Buckeyes punt.

5:38 Third and seven. Scheelhaase's pass is dropped by Millines with Shazier in coverage. Joey Galloway wants to know why they keep going at Shazier. It's a valid question. Avoid Shazier and avoid Bradley Roby. Seems like a simple plan. One even a moustachioed former offensive coordinator could install. Illinois punts.

5:42 And there goes Carlos Hyde blowing through people for 24 yards like an angry Raymont Harris. “The Angry Storm”, Carlos Hyde. Hard not to enjoy watching him run the football. Like watching a young Steven Seagal battle with convenience store ruffians.

5:42 Hyde picks up 20 more yards. It's not even exciting anymore. I am bored with this. It only took one more carry to turn me against Carlos Hyde. Stop being such a bully. YOU DON'T NEED ALL THAT LUNCH MONEY!

5:45 First and ten from the Illinois 19-yard line. Buckeyes are in an empty set. Beth Mowins just said this was the same formation the Buckeyes were in when Rod Smith scored. Except she's wrong. Anyway, Miller finds Devin Smith for nine yards.

5:49 And now Mowins just referred to cell phones as “PDAs”. Who is she, Abe Simpson? How many bees do you get for a quarter, Beth?

5:50 Third and five. Miller keeps it on the triple option and then pitches it to Smith, who picks up twelve yards down to the two-yard line. This is not the triple option I grew up watching. I mean, sure, Kent Graham and Braxton Miller are very similar players, but other than that...

5:51 First and goal from the two. This is just a foregone conclusion. Go ahead and put it on the board. Miller fakes a handoff, scrambles, and then finally takes it to the corner for the touchdown run. The extra point makes it 38-6 Buckeyes. That was a pretty serious beat down of a drive. At what point is it okay to feel bad for Illinois?

5:56 Pump fake, throw back screen blown up by Ryan Shazier for a loss of five yards to Donovonn Young. LOL. Don't be so stupid. Even Young was like, “Mannnnnnnn.”

5:57 Third and ten. Scheelhaase drops back and gets sacked by John Simon. That poor Scheelhaase boy has been harassed all day long. Hey, the Buckeyes rough the punter. The special teams strike again. Whoa, they call it running into the kicker. Actually, it looks like a good call on the replay. Duvernois made it look worse. Typical French Canadian. I assume he's French Canadian, I really have no idea. Regardless, it's typical of a French Canadian to do something like that.

6:01 Miller drops back, throws a swing pass to Rod Smith and he gets the ball popped out. Philly jumped on it, but I don't think he was strong enough to hold onto it. Illinois gets it. Smith's going to get some grief for that, but that was a perfect hit.

6:05 Third and six. Scheelhaase rolls right and throws it away because of pressure, but they flag Nathan Williams for a late hit. Holy cow, that's soft, but the lesson here is don't touch the quarterback two steps after the ball is away. You're free to hit him much sooner. Next time don't wait so long.

6:07 Touchdown Jon Davis from one yard out. And a personal foul on the run. Meyer is going to make this a miserable bye week for his team. The two-point conversion is good. Buckeyes lead it 38-14 with 53 seconds left in the third. It seems like everybody is ready to call it a night.

6:12 Hyde picks up four yards as the third quarter comes to a close. Buckeyes lead it 38-14. It's fun to watch a running back become a workhorse, but it's even more fun to see that workhorse in action week after week.

6:16  Hyde finds another hole and gets 13 more. He needed 133.3 yards per game from this game on to make it to 1,000, and he's right at that number now. Uh oh, Reid Fragel is down. It's amazing that they've gone this long without any linemen missing any significant time. Taylor Decker will come in for him. Fragel walks off, so that's very positive.

6:19 First and ten. Miller drops back, finds Philly in the slot and he breaks tackles and ankles and takes it all the way in. That's the biggest play he's made in his career, including the punt return earlier in the season. That was all of Philly's potential displayed on one single play. Buckeyes lead it 45-14. Miller now has 226 yards passing, which is 23 short of career high. I wonder if he's done.

6:25 Yep, Braxton is done. He's wearing giant mittens. You can't go back on the football field after donning the giant mittens. It's just not done.

6:28 Illinois punts. Kenny Guiton is coming in. The entire second-team offense, including the offensive line, is coming in as well. Is this the first time the entire second-team offensive line has been in this season?

6:37 Speed option, bobbled pitch by Guiton and Ashante Williams picks it up and goes 77 yards for the touchdown. Meyer is not amused. Not even like a little. If somebody told him a joke right now he might tear out their throat. Whoa, the extra point is botched and the holder runs it in for two points. Oh, please don't tell Urban Meyer a joke right now. Buckeyes lead it 45-22 with 4:56 to play. How about those special teams? Every single week it's something new.

6:42 Kickoff. Illinois gets the onside kick. Boren took out the kicker, but they're saying Illinois touched it before the necessary ten yards. Buckeye ball. Good call.

6:48 Third and one from the three-yard line. Bri'onte Dunn has carried the ball on every play this drive. He's gone for 7, 9, 5, 11, 4 and 6 yards. Now they have to reward him for getting him this far. Yep, he follows right behind Chase Farris for the touchdown. Buckeyes lead it 52-22. Meyer had high praise for Farris this week, and we saw why on much of this drive.

6:53 Third and 24. Illinois' last gasp attempt to score 30 points in the final seconds falls 30 points short as the game comes to an end. Buckeyes hold on for the 52-22 nail-biter. Now Illinois is trying to push its way off of the field for some reason. Mike Vrabel pushes his own team off the field. Let's see it – Illinois vs Vrabel. That's what we're all waiting for.

6:55 Well, it was about as we expected, and now the Buckeyes are two games away from a perfect season. But don't start thinking about that Michigan game just yet. Madison has not been the kindest of hosts for the Buckeyes. Fortunately, the bye week will help...unless it doesn't.

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