When a 38-point win is only the fifth-best win of conference play for the year, it says a few things about how capable of a team Urban Meyer has this year. The Buckeyes wanted the ball before forecasted bad weather moved into the area, got it and never looked back against Illinois. An appearance in the Big Ten title game is booked, but first: Michigan. Leaves are awarded on a zero-to-five basis. — Adam Jardy
The starters were removed during the third series of the second quarter with Ohio State ahead 38-0. Meyer re-inserted them during the third quarter to avoid having the game turn into a “clown show,” as he put it, and after they scored again their night was over. Facing rain bordering on biblical proportions, 543 yards of offense against a team allowing 403.0 per game says plenty.
Illinois’ first touchdown came on an Ohio State turnover and the second against the second-team defense. The Illini went three-and-out on their first six possessions and picked up just one first-half first down. No turnovers forced, but Illinois found no easy quarter against the Buckeyes.
Special teams (4)
Blake Haubeil sent a fourth-quarter kickoff out of bounds, but after attempting so many under difficult conditions, he earned a mulligan. Otherwise, with the outcome never really in question, the specialists were plenty adequate.
For a second straight week, everything Meyer dialed up seemed to work. The Buckeyes planned for the inclement weather, established their run game early and held Illinois to 11 yards while building a 38-0 lead. Not much to argue with there.
Let’s be honest: You can only watch the same movie so many times before it grows a bit repetitive. That’s not the fault of Ohio State, which continues to outclass the majority of the Big Ten. But Ohio Stadium was never quite full, and it was plenty empty after the dreaded downpour moved in. Thanks for the memories, seniors.
How often does a team pull its starters midway through the second quarter? Illinois didn’t pick up a first down until the Buckeyes had their second unit on the field and, when the Illini cracked the scoreboard on a fumble return, Meyer re-inserted J.T. Barrett and company to immediately answer with a touchdown.
There wasn’t much of anything in the way of drama, so the pressure on this week’s crew was lessened accordingly. And yet, with a looming storm and a clear mismatch unfolding, was it really necessary to stop play so many times to review plays that clearly didn’t need further inspection?