Illinois at Ohio St.: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Illinois came in to Columbus donning their burnt orange helmets with the all-white uniforms hoping to upset the Buckeyes in their home, much like they did in their 2007 matchup when Ohio State was ranked #1. An upset was not the case on this cold, non-competitive, November night game. Saturday was a day filled with many other blowouts in the conference, and it was looking like the Big Ten Football that we’ve come accustomed to as of late.
Ohio State dominated all sides of the football against Illinois last evening, the defense forcing multiple turnovers and the offense clicking when it needed to in the 55-14 win over the Fighting Illini. Here are the good, the bad and the ugly between Illinois and Ohio State from last evening’s game in The Shoe.
The Good - Ohio State’s Defense
Ohio State's defense has forced 20 turnovers this season, tied for the 12th-most in the nation. Last season, the Buckeyes forced 24 the entire season, which tied for 40th in the country. This year’s dominance on defense is obvious and really shows the improvement from where last year’s team was struggling. Sophomore pass-rushing superstar Joey Bosa recorded two sacks and added another tackle for loss last night in the 55-14 win and now has a Big Ten-best 10 sacks on the season to help this stellar Ohio State defense. With the Buckeyes traveling to East Lansing next weekend to face their toughest opponent yet, Coach Urban Meyer hopes to keep the aggressiveness on the defensive side of the ball alive so they can come out with a win against Michigan State.
The Bad – Illinois’ Struggling Offense
The most lopsided loss of the season did not leave a good taste Illinois’ mouth after leaving Columbus. The Illini offense could not get anything going – and forget about the team sticking with Reilly O’Toole and Aaron Bailey at quarterback. This struggling team needs Wes Lunt back under center, with him expected to miss at least another 2 weeks with the leg fracture, things are not looking up for the Fighting Illini. Hopes are not high for finishing the season strong, with games against Iowa and Penn State and at Northwestern, but if they can squeak out two wins in their last three games they can look forward to a bowl game come December.
The Ugly – J.T. Barrett’s Passing Game
Now this should be prefaced by saying that I am trying to nitpick in finding the one ugly thing about Ohio State, the team looked pretty stellar last night against Illinois - but J.T. Barrett was not his usual self that we’ve become accustomed to from the Freshman sensation. Favoring the leg he injured last week against Penn State, it was obvious he wasn’t playing at 100%. It’s safe to say that if this were the NFL, Ohio State would be trading Barrett in the offseason for a top O-lineman or defensive tackle and a draft pick or two when they have Braxton Miller returning for the 2015 season. Barrett missed some open throws last night, but offensive coordinator Tom Herman said he isn’t worried. It’s safe to say the leg injury is why some throws weren’t on point during last night’s first half, but it should not be something to worry about as the Buckeyes play Michigan State under the lights next Saturday when the College Game Day boys go to East Lansing for the biggest Big Ten matchup of the season.