Beanie, Buckeyes run wild, beat Illini



By Laura Hettiger

Coming off a loss at the hands of Western Michigan last Saturday, the team was searching for redemption in an upset of Ohio State – just like last year’s shocker in Columbus, Ohio against the then-No. 1 Buckeyes. The rivalry between Ohio State and Illinois has intensified over the past three seasons. In 2006, when the Buckeyes played in Champaign, they barely squeaked by the Illini, 17-10.

“The three games that I have played against Illinois have been battles,” said All-American linebacker James Laurinaitis. “This one was no exception. They are a great team with a great offense. We knew we had a big challenge this week and are just excited to get out of here with a win.”

Ohio State improves to 9-2 on the season and 6-1 in Big Ten action. The Buckeyes could still have a chance at securing a conference title with a win against Michigan and a Penn State loss to Michigan State next weekend, while the Orange and Blue racked up its sixth loss of the season, falling under .500 at 5-6.

Forced to look ahead to Northwestern on Saturday, the players and coaching staff are frustrated with the way the season has progressed. After coming off a Rose Bowl berth in 2007, higher goals were set for the current Illini team.


photo DI multimedia


Ohio State withers Illini hopes

Click to view a slideshow.

“It’s frustrating, but you know, we’re taking it week by week, that’s how we’ve done it all season,” said defensive lineman David Lindquist. “We’re going to go out next week and, I mean, it could be our last game, if we win or we lose. Either way, if we lose it’s our last game, if we win it’s up to other people, it’s out of our control, so all we can do is prepare and go out there and play our hardest.”

The “other people” Lindquist referred to are bowl selection committees. A team needs six wins to become bowl eligible, but with the strength of the Big Ten this season, a 6-6 Illinois team might be overlooked.

Unfortunately for the Illini, their record does not tell the whole story.

On a windy, nearly freezing afternoon, Illini quarterback Williams displayed his arm strength in completing 17-of-26 attempts with two touchdowns and one interception and threw 192 yards to eight different receivers. Ohio State’s freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor attempted only 10 passes in the poor weather, connecting on six for just 49 passing yards.

What the Buckeyes lacked in passing yards, they picked up in rushing yards. The Illinois defense had a hard time containing running back Chris “Beanie” Wells, as he gained 143 yards. Pryor added another 111 yards in the rush-heavy attack – something head coach Jim Tressel had in his original game plan.

“You knew that you were going to have a lot better chance of winning if you were going to be able to run today,” Tressel said. “You could pass it some, but you better not try to make a living on that … You didn’t want to be doing things that would stop the clock. Sometimes incompletions stop the clock. You wanted everything you were doing to keep that clock rolling.”

Tressel’s 100th win as the Ohio State head coach was coupled with Illinois’ own milestones. Freshman kicker Matt Eller connected on two second quarter field goals, from 28 and 44 yards out. Eller has hit 14 field goals this season, the most by an Illini freshman kicker.

Linebacker Brit Miller recorded 14 tackles against the Buckeyes and now averages 11.3 tackles a game, leading the Big Ten. Miller’s fellow senior Ryan McDonald recorded his 47th consecutive start while Arrelious Benn’s 65 receiving yards brought his 2008 total to over 1,000 yards.

The Illini have one more week of official practice to prepare for the Wildcats in Evanston.

“Not every day is going to be a day at the beach,” head coach Ron Zook said. “You’ve got to go back to work … Fifty percent of the teams lost today, they all go through it. Is it fun? No. Does it hurt like heck? It’s brutal, it is, but you do it all for that feeling you get when you win on Saturday. You have to understand that it’s going to be painful, but you’ve just got to keep going.”