COLUMBUS, Ohio – The combination of Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller was more than enough for No. 6 Ohio State.
Hyde rushed for 137 yards and three touchdowns and Miller burnished his Heisman credentials by passing for two scores and running for another in the Buckeyes’ 52-22 victory over Illinois on Saturday.
The Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) maintained the upper hand in the Leaders Division heading into a bye week. They have games remaining at Wisconsin on Nov. 17 and against rival Michigan at home a week later.
Miller carried 18 times for 73 yards, and completed 12 of 20 passes for 226 yards.
It was the sixth consecutive loss for the Illini (2-7, 0-5) and their 11th consecutive Big Ten loss.
Little went right for the Illini and first-year coach Tim Beckman, a former assistant to Ohio State’s Urban Meyer when Meyer was the head coach at Bowling Green from 2001-2002.
Beckman also was a former Ohio State assistant under Jim Tressel, forced out in the wake of a memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal that ultimately led to Meyer taking over the Buckeyes last November.
After racing to quick touchdowns with short drives while outscoring the visitors 24-0 in the second quarter, the Buckeyes stretched their lead to 38-6 in the third quarter by taking their time, going 73 yards on 11 plays, capped by Miller’s 2-yard scramble.
Miller tossed TD passes of 51 yards to Rod Smith and 37 yards to wide receiver Corey Brown.
Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, dogged all day by Ohio State’s aggressive front line, completed 19 of 34 passes for just 91 yards with one interception. He also led the Illini in rushing with 15 carries for 36 yards. But there wasn’t much else going on for the Illini, who finished with only 170 total yards.
Ahead 7-6 after a quarter, they blew the game open with four scoring drives.
Drew Basil’s 31-yard field goal made it 10-6 before a short Illinois punt gave the Buckeyes decent field position at their 36. Five plays later, Hyde’s second short TD run of the day made it 17-6.
Illinois, which settled for Nick Immekus field goals after first downs at the Ohio State 29- and 10-yard lines in the first quarter, wasn’t able to get anything going on offense as Scheelhaase was continually harassed and forced to run wide before picking his options.
After another punt, Miller’s pass was nearly intercepted before Hyde gained 10 yards. Miller then rolled right and then looked back to the left sideline where backup running back Rod Smith was several yards behind safety Supo Sanni. Smith pulled in the pass to complete the 51-yard score.
An 18-yard punt and a penalty put the Buckeyes right back in control at midfield. On consecutive plays, Miller juked and spun for 11 yards, Hyde picked up 11, Miller found tight end Nick Vannett for 14 yards, Miller scrambled for 11 more and Hyde then collected his third score of the day on a sweep around right end.
Ohio State will have plenty to work on during its week off. The Buckeyes had several costly personal-foul penalties, surrendered yardage on kickoff and punt returns and also gave up a big play off a turnover.
The Buckeyes gave up the ball on Smith’s fumble, with the Illini getting help from two Ohio State late hits to score on Jon Davis’ 1-yard run.
The Illini’s defense, allowed 567 yards (7.2 per snap) did come up with one big play. Ashante Williams picked up Ohio State backup quarterback Kenny Guiton’s bad option pitch and raced 77 yards for the touchdown in the final minutes.
The Illini had won three of the past five and seven of the past 11 meetings at Ohio Stadium.
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