The Buckeyes dominated Saturday, the 18th in Columbus against a weaker Illinois – all the same it turned into a thriller.
The Buckeyes scored on its first six possessions — which included J.T. Barrett’s 100th career touchdown pass — and the Buckeyes routed Illinois 52-14 on Saturday and clinched the Big Ten East title.
Barrett, playing in his last game at Ohio Stadium, threw for two touchdowns and ran for another and the Buckeyes (9-2, 7-1, CFP # 9) dominated from the opening kick. Barrett became the Ohio State leader in rushing yards among quarterbacks (3,070), eclipsing Braxton Miller. JT is now the holder of 35 Big Ten and school records.
Ohio State’s defense limited the Illini (2-9, 0-9) to a season-low 105 yards in handing them their ninth consecutive loss. They didn’t make a first down until near the end of the first half and ended with just five.
JT completed 11-of-19 passes for 141 yards, with backups Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow the dominant focus of the second half. Running back Mike Weber picked up 108 yards on 11 carries and scored twice, including on a 43-yard breakaway romp in the first quarter. This makes me happy. I am a Weber fan,
The Buckeyes led 28-0 after the first quarter and 38-0 at halftime when heavy rain rolled through Columbus, slowing the pace in a messy second half.
The final equation of thought:
Illinois: The Illini were hapless – plain and simple. All Illini fans must question the Lovie Smith hire as a second disappointing season drags on. With so many true freshmen on the field, the Big Ten’s worst team had trouble doing simply anything against the Buckeyes.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes did what they were supposed to do – pile on the points, especially on Senior Day. They need a strong finish now in Ann Arbor next week before moving on to the battle for the Big Ten against No. 5 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. Sneaking back into the playoff picture is unlikely but not improbable, They need help – but must, duh, win.
What it means:
The Ohio State University will represent the Big Ten East in Indianapolis. Thanks to this win and the Wisconsin win over Michigan, the Buckeyes clinched the division championship. It’s Ohio State’s first division championship since the 2014 season.
The Three Things we have learned:
1. Ohio State is still sharp – The Buckeyes spent all week deflecting questions about anything other than Illinois and then came out and played like it. This was a second consecutive clinical performance after a humiliating showing against the Hawkeyes of Iowa. The Buckeyes ran the ball, as Mike Weber’s 108 yards provides, and threw well too. The defense allowed one first down in the entire first half. Illinois was overmatched, but the Buckeyes made sure everyone knew this fact. If this type of play continues, the Michigan game next week shouldn’t be as close as Jim Harbaugh will hope.
2. Illinois is really bad. The fact that they scored 14 is – shall I say it was the gods way of keeping the Buckeyes real? Haskins fumble in the rain which amounted to the first score was – what? Something that happens! Rain! The second – who saw that one? I was actually in the kitchen…..
3. Its timely – Its hard to get an insider look on the Badgers of Wisconsin – primarily because of their schedule. But, and this is an arguable point, the Buckeyes look to be a touchdown favorite against the Wolverines and Badgers both. The Buckeyes smashing of Illinois should not be comparative to Wisconsin’s win against the Illini which was 24-10, because look at Iowa – the Badgers were a 38-14 victor. So let’s stop the stats mess, it boils down to the Buckeyes who are jelling at the right time. So – I must confess I will go with that.
NEXT UP: You Know!