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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
By Matt McCoy
Urban Meyer has dipped his feet in the social media waters this season, with periodic tweets about the Buckeyes. Friday, as the team heads to Illinois with a chance to win its 22nd straight game, which would tie a school record, Meyer sent out consecutive tweets, the second of which included an inspirational highlight video.
If you are on Twitter and don't follow coach Meyer you can at @OSUCoachMeyer. His tweets on Friday afternoon were as follows.
"Best Fridays in Football-Week 10. Winding down the journey with an incredible group of seniors. Best thing about 9-0 is..."
That was followed by this, which included the video link below:
"A look back at The Chase thus far this season.."
By Matt McCoy
Thanks again to the wonderful crowd out at Bucksline Thursday night. Earle Bruce, Stan Jackson and Jeff Rapp joined me in what was another spirited show. It included not only discussion on Ohio State's game at Illinois but also the improvement of Braxton Miller, the "wipe the field with them" comments of Evan Spencer, the play of linebacker Ryan Shazier and the state of Michigan football.
If you missed it... hour number one of Bucksline is here:
Hour number two of Bucksline is here:
My apologies for being tardy with this, but Jeff Rapp of Sportsrappup.com and WTVN hosted Monday night's Buckeye Rewind from the Hollywood Casino. Jeff was joined by Buckeye Grove's Kevin Noon and also visited with former Buckeye quarterback Greg Frey. The show took the air only hours after Evan Spencer's comments became national news. You can check out how Jeff and Kevin reacted, and hear the entire Buckeye rewind show by clicking here:
By Matt McCoy
The development of Braxton Miller this year has been obvious. Miller, always a dynamic runner, has become a dead-eye passer, leading the Big Ten in completion percentage, pass efficiency and touchdown passes. He's becoming a polished quarterback, something he was far from when the Buckeyes visited Illinois two years ago.
Starting as a true freshman in 2011, Miller earned his first Big 10 win, when Ohio State won at Illinois 17-7. On that October afternoon, Miller completed all of one pass, a 17 yard TD in the fourth quarter.
"I remember. It was to Jake (Stoneburner)," Miller said as he and the Buckeyes prepare to return to Illinois this Saturday. "I don't think I was ready (to start) at that time but I did what I had to do."
Miller credits his development to the arrival of Urban Meyer as head coach and Tom Herman as offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. He became the Big Ten offensive player of the year as a sophomore but still had a long way to go as a quarterback. Miller believes he's made enormous strides this year.
"Day in and day out you have to prepare for things," Miller said. "That's what I didn't do last year. I really didn't understand the preparation (it takes) to be a quarterback. Learning from Coach Meyer and Coach Herman...that's where they really put their emphasis."
Miller's improve preparation and knowledge of the offense has allowed the coaching staff to go significantly deeper into the Buckeye offensive playbook.
"It's not even close. If there's a percentage (the playbook) was probably operating at about 50 percent a year ago," Meyer said. "It's almost 100 now."
To listen to Braxton Miller talk with reporters Wednesday night click here:
All Is Forgiven
The dust-up caused by Evan Spencer's comments is over. So said Urban Meyer Wednesday night when he met with reporters.
Meyer said Tuesday that Spencer would not speak with the media "for a long, long time" after saying Monday that Ohio State would "wipe the field" with Alabama or other top college football teams.
Spencer said he was having fun with reporters and was not being disrespectful but the comments made headlines nationally. Meyer wasn't happy with what Spencer said but the junior receiver is not in the coaches dog house.
"He's a great kid but I just don't like that stuff. I don't think anybody does," Meyer said. "It's over...he's a good kid."
Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier was named a semi-finalist for the Lott IMPACT award, given to the nation's top impact player on defense. That means Shazier is in contention for at least three major awards. He's already been named a semi-finalist for the Bednarik and Butkus awards.
"It's just amazing and it's a humbling experience to be up for these awards," Shazier said. "My goal at the beginning of the year was to be one of the best at my position and have the team be the best as a team. To see all of us succeeding right now is just amazing."
Shazier leads Ohio State in tackles, tackles for loss and is second in sacks.
"Good players on good teams get a lot of recognition and I think he would be the first one to tell you that," Coach Urban Meyer said. "And he is playing at a very high level. He is very deserving of being involved in national awards."
The Failing Illini
While Ohio State trys to extend its winning streak to a school record tying 22, Illinois hopes to pull off a monumental upset and end a Big Ten losing streak that has reached 19. Nonetheless, Meyer said there are reasons to be concerned about the Illini attack.
"They coulda, woulda, shoulda (won) a couple games," Meyer said. "They're real close to winning. (They went to) overtime at Penn State and this past one (Indiana) could have gone either way. They're much better on offense...that's where I see night and day improvement."
Illinois has not beaten Ohio State in Champaign since 1993, a span of eight games.
To listen to Coach Meyer's comments to reporters Wednesday night click here: