Illini Hang Tough Against Buckeyes
Nov. 15, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - The Illini put up 455 yards of offense against the Buckeyes - nearly 200 yards more than the Ohio State Defense has given up on average this season. This total also was 101 yards more than the Buckeyes gained on Saturday.
Illinois has one game left to earn the sixth win that might get the Illini to a bowl game.
Beanie Wells ran for 143 yards and a touchdown and Terrelle Pryor added another 110 yards Saturday in No. 10 Ohio State's 30-20 win over Illinois.
The victory kept the Buckeyes (9-2, 6-1) in the chase for the Big Ten title. It was also revenge for last year's 28-21 loss to the Illini (5-6, 3-4), which ended Ohio State's pursuit of a perfect season.
On a windy, 40-degree day, Wells carried the load for the Buckeyes.
He carried the ball 24 times, patiently picking his way through Illini defenders for steady early gains and, later, bursting through holes for runs that exhausted Illinois' defense.
One, a 29-yarder late in the third quarter with the score still 23-13, stole the momentum from Illinois on one of its last best chances to get back into the game.
Pryor, too, found room to run Saturday. His 110 yards came on just 13 carries, most of them through a tired Illinois defense in the second half.
But by the midway point in the second quarter, the list of Illinois mistakes was long and growing:
A fumble by quarterback Juice Williams deep in Illinois territory, and an interception with the Buckeyes goal line in range.
A punt blocked for a safety, and a punt and kickoff that went nowhere in a stiff northwest wind, giving the Buckeyes great field position.
The Buckeyes made Illinois pay for every one of them.
The fumble, midway through the first quarter at the Illini 17-yard line, set up the game's first points. Pryor eased into the end zone from a yard out.
The safety led to a short kick, knocked down by that 20 mph wind, and set up Ohio State's second touchdown. Wells capped a 42-yard drive by falling into the corner of the end zone for a 16-7 lead.
The interception, by Kurt Coleman at the Ohio State 12, probably cost Illinois points. And the Buckeyes took the ball 76 yards the other way for a Pryor touchdown pass to Dane Sanzenbacher and a 23-7 lead.
The Buckeyes kept Williams under heavy pressure.
Williams was sacked just twice, but was forced to run out of pressure and either throw on the run or scramble for what he could get on another half-dozen plays.
The Buckeyes head into the last game of the regular season against Michigan with a title shot in sight.
Just a year ago, after Williams led them on an 8-minute drive that drained the clock and preserved a 28-21 win at Columbus, the Illini were on their way to the Rose Bowl.