By Matt McCoy
Ohio State won by 25 points, scored 60, won its school record tying 22nd straight game...and was passed by Baylor in this week's Associated Press poll.
The good news for Buckeye fans is Baylor is still behind Ohio State in the polls that matter...the coaches and Harris polls--and in the overall BCS rankings. The bad news is that the gap between the two continues to narrow.
Alabama and Florida State are solid at first and second. The Buckeyes are third with an overall BCS average of .8869. Baylor is fourth, with an average of .8856. Oregon rounds out the top five.
The 35 points allowed by the Ohio State defense, as much as anything, probably allowed Baylor to close the gap. Voters clearly penalized Ohio State for a subpar defensive effort, even though there were mitigating circumstances.
The Buckeye linebacking corp was decimated with the injuries to starters Curtis Grant (ankle, back) and Joshua Perry (head--after slipping on ice). Neither played against the Illini so little used Cameron Williams and Joe Burger were thrust into action.
Next week, while Ohio State hosts another Big Ten bottom dweller in Indiana, Baylor plays No. 10 Oklahoma State. If the Bears win, no matter what Ohio State does, it's hard to imagine they won't pass the Buckeyes. What does it mean? Apparently, what could be a school record 23 game winning streak is impressing no one. The perceived weakness of the Big Ten is crippling Ohio State.
Even if the Buckeyes are passed by Baylor, it may not be permanent. After Indiana, the Buckeyes finish at Michigan and then seem destined to face the nation's No. 1 defense, Michigan State, in the Big Ten title game. Wins over both might be enough for Ohio State to hold off Baylor...but at this point, who knows. Bottom line, it won't matter, in terms of the national title game, unless either Alabama or Florida State falter.
To listen to Urban Meyer's comments following Ohio State's win at Illinois click here:
Dr. Miller and Mr. Hyde
It was quite an afternoon at Illinois Saturday for Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde. The Ohio State quarterback, running back duo combined for 430 yards rushing on 40 carries, an average of 10.75 yards each time they ran the ball.
Miller got the ball rolling with his 70 yard touchdown run on the Buckeyes first series. He finished with a season high 184 yards on 16 carries. The windy conditions hampered Miller's passing, as he was just 13-29 for 150 yards and two touchdowns, with one of those two TD's to Hyde.
It was a monster performance for the senior running back who ran for 246 yards on 24 carries. He was already having a productive day, with 22 carries for 140 yards when he finished in style with touchdown bursts of 51 and 55 yards on his final two runs. Overall, Hyde had five touchdowns...four rushing and one receiving.
For the season, Hyde heads into Saturday's home finale against Indiana with 947 yards, putting him on the doorstep to become the first 1,000 yard running back in the coaching career of Urban Meyer.
One other note...apparently Ohio State running backs love Illini defenses. The top three rushing performances in Buckeye history have come against Illinois. Eddie George rushed for 314 yards in 1995...Keith Byars for 274 in 1984...and Hyde for 246 Saturday--all against Illinois. Archie Griffin is tied with Hyde for the third biggest rushing day, also going for 246, against Iowa in 1973. Hyde's 246 yards is a record for the most yards rushing for an Ohio State player on the road.
To listen to Hyde's comments following the Illinois win, click here
To listen to Miller's comments following the Illinois win, click here