Taking a look back at a game Ohio State played on this date:

Ohio State 49, Illinois 42

Setup: Ohio State began the 1980 season as the nation's No. 1 team, dropped to No. 2 immediately with an uneven opening win over Syracuse and then was banished to the back of the top 10 after a week-four shutout loss to UCLA. But at 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes still had eyes on a league title with their annual grudge match with Michigan looming three weeks hence. Illinois, on the other hand, was playing out the string on a disappointing season.

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Stars: Quarterback Art Schlichter paced OSU, passing for 284 yards and four touchdowns and, along the way, breaking Archie Griffin's school record for career total yardage. Receivers Doug Donley and Gary Williams were superb, as well. But the defense? Ugh. They made Illinois quarterback Dave Wilson the man of the hour, allowing him to pass for 621 yards — an NCAA record at the time — while rallying the Illini from deficits of 28-0 and 35-7. Wilson, who threw six TD passes, matched NCAA marks by completing 43 of 69 passes.

Turning point: Illinois' comeback was quick against the defenseless Buckeyes, who were missing starting rover back Todd Bell because of injury. The Illini pulled to 35-28 in the third quarter and 42-35 with 11:49 remaining. But Ohio State scored less than a minute later to restore its edge to 14 points. Then defensive back Vince Skillings, who had an otherwise forgettable day, helped stymie Illinois with a forced fumble after a long pass play and an interception of Wilson with 3:06 remaining. The Illini scored their last TD with 11 seconds left.

Impact: OSU had the top-ranked pass defense in the country entering the weekend but not at the exit. Still, the Buckeyes had hopes for a conference title. They blew out Iowa the following week but laid an egg against Michigan — a 9-3 loss at home that did not set any offensive records. With its Rose Bowl hopes dashed, OSU was beaten by Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl to finish 9-3.

Quotable: "He didn't look too good in the first half, and I'm glad of that. He might have passed for a thousand." — OSU coach Earle Bruce, on Wilson's second-half barrage.

rstein@dispatch.com