The Ohio State Buckeyes were able to do today what they were unable to do last week in Nebraska: take a lead, hold a lead and claim a victory.
Because they were able to get the job done this afternoon in Champagne, Illinois, to the tune of a 17-7 score, the Buckeyes claimed their first conference win of the season — and their first Leaders Division triumph ever in the newly-split Big Ten.
Dan Herron rang up 113 yards on 23 carries and scored one TD to lead an OSU ground game that totaled 207 yards.
And at quarterback? Well, here is a stat that is startling, and hearkens back to the old days under Woody Hayes, with its "Three yards and a cloud of dust" philosophy — Braxton Miller completed one pass…that’s right, one pass, in fact the only pass the Buckeyes completed all day. But that one completion was for a 17-yard touchdown to Jake Stoneburner in the fourth quarter that extended the lead to 17-0 and basically put the game out of reach, making a late Illinois score on a Nathan Scheelhaase to Evan Wilson pass academic rather than damaging.
Ohio State got on the board in the first quarter on a 43-yard field goal from Drew Basil, and it stayed 3-0 OSU until halftime.
Less than a minute into the third quarter Herron scored from 12 yards out to extend the lead to double digits, and Miller’s TD two minutes into the final stanza gave the Buckeyes all the breathing room that they needed.
Neither team mustered a ton of offense in total, with Illinois winning the yardage battle 272-224 and the first down edge 19-12. But as noted earlier, Ohio State’s ability to run the ball with Miller having a quiet game as he recuperates from last week’s injury made the difference on this day.
Besides Herron’s 113 yards, Jordan Hall added 55 yards on 12 carries, and Miller did a little damage on the ground with 33 yards on 13 carries.
Scheelhaase ran for 49 yards for the Illini, and went 19-of-34 for 158 yards, but had two interceptions.
The loss was Illinois’ first of the year after six straight wins, including a 2-0 start in the Big Ten.
Ohio State, now 4-3, will be off next week before returning to action on October 29 at home against 4th-ranked Wisconsin, while the Illini will hit the road and play Purdue next Saturday.