Mistakes cost Illini in 55-14 rout vs. Buckeyes


Illinois’ Aaron Bailey (15) runs the ball during the game against Ohio State at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. The Illini lost 55-14.

By Sean Neumann

COLUMBUS, OHIO — The expectations were low, but Illinois’ 55-14 loss to No. 16 Ohio State was nothing less than a one-sided affair.

The Buckeyes’ offense trumped the Illini, gaining 545 yards and putting seven touchdowns on the scoreboard.

Ohio State forced four turnovers, including two interceptions thrown by Illinois quarterback Reilly O’Toole.

The senior’s first interception of the game came on Illinois’ opening drive, when a deflected pass through the middle was caught and returned for 26 yards by Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee.

“We didn’t do a very good job at bouncing back from those mistakes,” O’Toole said. “We kept digging ourselves in a bigger hole.”

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Freshman running back Curtis Samuel ran for a 23-yard touchdown on Ohio State’s third play of the game after starting the drive at Illinois’ 38-yard line.

Illinois head coach Tim Beckman said he felt the game was decided “pretty early.”

Ohio State began eight drives inside or within one yard of midfield.

“You can’t win football games if you’re giving the ball to them on the plus side of the 50,” Beckman said. “I don’t think I’ve been involved in a game like that before. That’s definitely not ‘winning football.’”

The Buckeye’s offense was working quickly, even putting together a 14-second scoring drive at the end of the first half to make it 31-0.

“It’s hard to find any silver linings,” defensive coordinator Tim Banks said. “We obviously have to coach better and play better.”

Illinois’ composure didn’t help out early either. 

Illinois had five penalties in the first half — one canceled out by an Ohio State flag. Even Beckman was assessed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty late in the first half.

All four Illini player penalties came on the offensive line.

“Anything that could go wrong, went wrong,” offensive coordinator Bill Cubit said. “It was just one of those games.”

Illinois’ initial scoring drive came as a result of an Ohio State penalty that allowed the Illini to convert on a fourth-and-3 inside the Buckeyes’ red zone. Another facemask penalty made it first and goal before running back Donovonn Young reached the end zone on a 3-yard rush to end the shutout late in the third.

Ohio State continued to extend its lead in the second half, adding three more touchdowns and a field goal to extend its lead to 55-14.

“This isn’t the way we expected this to go at all,” said Illinois linebacker Mason Monheim, who forced a fumble late in the game — one of the few bright spots on a dim night for the Illini.

Monheim echoed the “forget about it and move on” attitude Illinois players have expressed all season following losses — something they’ve had to do after five of their last seven games.

“You go back to your winter workouts, your spring ball, your summer workouts, and you say, ‘Did I do all that to dwell on a loss?’ No, I did that to win ball games,” Monheim said. “And dwelling on a loss isn’t going to get you a win in the next game.”

Sean can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter