2 wins last night. Football team looked great!
2 wins last night. Football team looked great!
Illinois' Class of 2011 grows to 30
Illinois coach Ron Zook and his staff have been busy on the recruiting trail and received two more Class of 2011 commitments, according to ESPN Recruiting.
The Illini added Southfield-Lathrup (Mich.) offensive tackle Willie Beavers and Elbert County (Ga.) defensive back Valdon Cooper to their already large class.
The 6-foot-4, 325-pound Beavers chose the Illini over offers from Akron, Bowling Green and Western Michigan. He is not ranked by ESPN.
The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Cooper also had an offer from West Virginia. He is ranked 245th at his position.
The Illini now have 30 commitments for 2011. Itís their largest class since 2006 when they had the same number of recruits.
Ohio DB commits to Illini
Middletown (Ohio) class of 2012 defensive back Cody Quinn has committed to Illinois, according to ESPN Recruiting.
Quinn, who is 5-10 and 170 pounds, chose the Illini over offers from Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Kent State, Marshall, Miami-Ohio, Purdue, Toledo and West Virginia.
Illinois now has three Class of 2012 commitments.
To think that I had an offer and invitation from the University of Illinois to come see the campus/attend the school. I would have considered it, except for the fact that Urbana/Champaign, IL, is like nine hours from my house.
Illinois rolls behind Nathan Scheelhaase's passing game (Week 1)
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois started slow but used 100-yard receiving days from A.J. Jenkins and Darius Millines to open the season with a 33-15 win over Arkansas State on Saturday.
Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase threw for a career-best 267 yards. His 16 completions went to Jenkins, who had 11 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown, and Millines, who caught five balls for 119 yards and a score.
Jason Ford rushed for 86 yards and two TDs for Illinois.
The Red Wolves led 8-7 with less than three minutes left in the first half on a safety and a pair of field goals.
But Illinois answered with Millines' touchdown and a field goal before halftime. Jenkins scored his TD early in the third quarter.
Arkansas State quarterback Ryan Aplin was 20 of 32 for 290 yards.
Donovonn Young, Illinois steamrolls South Dakota State (Week 2)
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Freshman running back Donovonn Young introduced himself to Illinois fans with a pair of touchdowns and Nathan Scheelhaase ran for two more on Saturday in a 56-3 blowout over South Dakota State.
Illinois hadn't won this big since 1944, in a 79-6 crushing of Illinois-Normal played in front of 5,000 fans.
The 42,000 at Memorial Stadium on Saturday saw the Illini (2-0) score on seven consecutive drives between their first possession early in the opening quarter and a punt with 22 seconds left in the third, when they were already up by a comfy 46 points.
Illinois rolled up 519 yards of offense and allowed the FCS member Jackrabbits (1-1) just 96.
Jason Ford is Illinois' starter at tailback and had 48 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown, but Illini head coach Ron Zook makes clear that he prefers a deep rotation of backs to leaning on any one ball carrier.
On Saturday, seven Illini had carries, but Young showed why there's a serious buzz about the Houston native in Champaign.
His first touchdown was a short one that looked easy, 2 yards behind a big block by fullback Jay Prosch, with 3:58 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
Young's second score, however, was something else altogether.
The 215-pound back took a handoff from Scheelhaase at the Jackrabbits 41 with just under two minutes left in the first half and burst through a hole opened by Prosch on the left, running through four would-be tackles on his way to the end zone and a 35-3 lead. South Dakota State linebacker Mike Lien had perhaps the best shot at Young a few yards past the line of scrimmage, but found himself on his stomach grasping at air where Young's lower leg had been, watching the freshman sprint toward the goal line.
Scheelhaase took a seat in the third quarter with 93 yards rushing and 102 passing yards on six completions.
Illinois' defense never gave South Dakota State serious reason to believe it could compete with the Illini.
The Jackrabbits had just 54 yards of offense at halftime. They didn't manage a first down until the second quarter and had just six of them for the game. A week after the Jackrabbits ran for 162 yards in a win over Southern Utah, South Dakota had 25 yards on the ground against Illinois.
Illinois picked off South Dakota State quarterback Thomas O'Brien twice. One was returned for a touchdown by linebacker Trulon Henry and the other set up a late scoring pass by Reilly O'Toole to Evan Wilson.
O'Brien finished the afternoon a frustrated 8-for-18 with just 37 yards.
The lone South Dakota State bright spots were a 33-yard field goal by Kyle Harris in the second quarter that trimmed the Illini lead to 28-3, and punter Jason Schlautman.
Schlautman punted a lot -- seven times -- and averaged 51 yards a kick.
Illinois fullback Zack Becker left the game in the first half with a leg injury that Zook said will likely sideline him for the season. Zook didn't specify the nature of the injury but Becker's right leg was placed in an inflatable cast before he was carted off the field.
Illinois knocks off Arizona State in turnover-heavy affair (Week 3)
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois coach Ron Zook joked last week that if there was a way to stop 6-foot-8 Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler it might involve a stepladder.
It turns out Illinois had a plan, and it consisted of throwing just about everything but that ladder at him.
The Illini (3-0) sacked Osweiler six times and forced a pair of interceptions on their way to a 17-14 win over the No. 22 Sun Devils (2-1) on Saturday night.
"I kept telling (defensive coordinator Vic Koenning), 'Don't worry about it, they aren't going to beat us running the football,' " Zook said. "The pressure was great; they kept coming."
Osweiler echoed Zook.
"They brought a lot of pressure," Osweiler said. "Shoot, it seemed like every snap."
Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said Illinois pressured Osweiler in ways the Sun Devils didn't see in wins over UC-Davis and Missouri.
"We didn't protect very well," he said. "It wasn't anything we didn't know was coming. There was a lot more pressure than the first two football games, and there will be a lot more pressure the next 10 football games."
Nathan Scheelhaase delivered the win, turning one of those sacks into a 16-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Jenkins with less than 10 minutes left.
With Illinois trailing 14-10, defensive end Whitney Mercilus hit Osweiler in the back and knocked the ball loose to linebacker Ian Thomas. Four plays later, Scheelhaase found Jenkins for the winning score.
Scheelhaase was 11 of 15 for 135 yards. He threw one interception but also ran for 67 yards. Jenkins had six catches for 103 yards.
The Sun Devils outgained Illinois 362-240. Each team had three turnovers.
Osweiler completed 25 of 45 passes for 256 yards. He ran for a touchdown and threw for another, but also tossed two interceptions.
Mercilus had two sacks, and Jonathan Brown had an interception and a sack that led to another interception.
After two quarters of mistakes, the game turned on two drives in the second half.
With Osweiler under pressure, and the Sun Devils failing to get anything from two drives that started in Illini territory, they decided to keep it on the ground late in the third quarter. Arizona State started at the Illinois 45 after the defense stuffed the Illini at their 4.
Cameron Marshall, who spent much of the second quarter on the bench because of a leg injury, bounced outside to the right for 16 yards. Two plays later, he carried 265-pound defensive end Whitney Mercilus for 7 yards up the middle.
That set up Osweiler with a first down at the 15.
The quarterback dropped back and then ran through an opening on a draw. No one touched him until he bounced off Illinois cornerback Tavon Wilson one yard deep in the end zone. That gave the Sun Devils their first lead, 14-10, with 14:54 left in the game.
"We had enough opportunities on offense to win the game, and we didn't do it," Erickson said.
After the Sun Devils held the Illini and got the ball back, Illinois turned the quarterback pressure on again.
On second and 13 at the Arizona State 41, Mercilus delivered a hit to Osweiler's back and the ball to Thomas at the Sun Devil 41.
Scheelhaase then connected with Jenkins for the winning score. The ball was behind Jenkins who stopped to catch it, then spun to his left around a quickly closing defensive back before tiptoeing three yards down the sideline and into the end zone.
The game had more than its share of big plays, big mistakes and near misses.
With The Sun Devils trailing 10-7, but driving deep in Illini territory late in the first quarter, Illinois forced Osweiler into an interception when he was blind-sided as he threw to his right.
The wobbly pass bounced off the back of offensive lineman Dan Knapp and fell into the hands of defensive tackle Glen Foster. No one was more surprised than Foster, and the threat ended.
Illinois returned the favor just over three minutes later when freshman running back Donovonn Young coughed up the ball at the 50. Bo Moos recovered at the Sun Devil 47.
Late in the second quarter, Arizona State had a first down at the Illini 15, but after a close call on a catch in the end zone was ruled incomplete, the Sun Devils were forced to try a 32-yard field goal. Alex Garroutte missed wide left.
With about five minutes to go in the third quarter, Ryan Lankford tried to field a punt by Josh Hubner at his 36 but missed it entirely. The ball bounced off the front of his helmet and right into the hands of Chris Coyle.
But the Sun Devils failed to move the ball and punted after a sack by Thomas.
"You can't have bad plays, you can't have turnovers. I had three of them alone," Osweiler said. "The margin for error is tiny on the road."
Illinois talked all week about the test Arizona State offered, and the chance to prove the Illini belonged.
"Enjoy it," Zook said. "I think it makes everybody understand that maybe Illinois is a little better than people think."
The Illini will play their fourth straight home game next Saturday against Western Michigan. Arizona State will start Pac-12 play at home against USC.
Illinois narrowly edges Western Michigan for best start since 1951 (Week 4)
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- With a halftime lead on Illinois, Western Michigan saw a chance to relive a little recent history.
The Broncos had held the ball for almost 17 minutes, keeping the Illini defense on the field and building not just the 13-10 lead but a bit of confidence. After all, Western Michigan had knocked off the Illini the last time the teams played, in 2008, and for 30 minutes on Saturday moved the ball on the No. 24 Illini like another upset was in the works.
That was before Illinois (4-0) turned the ball over to its running backs, dominating second-half possession and depriving quarterback Alex Carder and receiver Jordan White of the ball in a 23-20 win.
"It's gut wrenching," Carder said. "Everybody is just sitting in disbelief that it happened the way it did."
Carder finished 30 of 48 with 306 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while White had his 14th career 100-yard game, catching 14 balls for 132 yards a TD.
But most of that production came in a first half that ended with the Broncos (2-2, 1-0 MAC) up by only 3 points and WMU never found a way to move the ball on the ground. They finished with just 35 yards on 21 carries.
Carder had 100 yards passing over the final 30 minutes and White was held to four catches and a relatively modest 43 yards.
"Did they out-physical us at the end? Probably," Bronco coach Bill Cubit said. "But during the game I thought our kids did a pretty good job."
In all, Illinois had 296 rushing yards on 52 carries, 184 of those yards in the second half with tailbacks Brandon Pollard and Donovonn Young sharing most of the load.
"You've heard me say this a thousand times," said coach Ron Zook, whose Illini are 4-0 for the first time since 1951. "You can't have enough running backs."
Pollard finished with 133 yards on 14 carries while Young, a freshman, had 100 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
"I think I was at the right place at the right time," Pollard said. "It feels pretty good to help out the team as much as you can, especially when your number's called and you can do big things."
Early on, Carder, White and Illinois' offensive struggles gave the Broncos a great chance for a repeat of the 2008 upset that would have cost Illinois their week-old ranking. The Illini only moved into the Top 25 with last Saturday's win over Arizona State.
With the Illini up 10-3, Western Michigan struck with a 76-yard, clock-eating drive that ended with a 23-yard field goal from John Potter that cut the deficit to 10-6.
The Illini ran three plays that went nowhere before backup punter Ryan Lankford, one of Illinois' starting receivers, blooped a 21-yard, rugby-style punt that set up the Broncos at the Illini 39.
Three plays later, Carder hit receiver Chleb Ravenell, who sidestepped charging safety Supo Sanni and sprinted to the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown and a 13-10 lead.
"In the first half we were clicking," said Carder, who faced heavy pressure and was sacked twice. "They have a solid D-line and I'll tip my hat off to that, but other than that there was nothing we hadn't faced before."
Potter missed a pair of first half field goal tries that could have meant the difference.
"We stayed toe-to-toe with them the whole time," Cubit said, noting the points the Broncos left on the field.
Things only got worse for the Illini after Ravenell's touchdown. Illinois moved down the field for a potential score, but offensive lineman High Thornton was flagged for unnecessary roughness and Scheelhaase was sacked for a loss of nine yards. His heave into the end zone was picked off, but another lineman Jeff Allen, was ejected after the teams jostled on the way to the locker rooms.
The final half was much different. With a first and 10 at the Western Michigan 14, quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase ran left on an option with Young trailing him, taking the pitch just as Scheelhaase absorbed a wicked hit.
Young scooted hard around the corner, shooting a gap between three Broncos defenders and into the end zone. Illinois was back in the lead at 17-13 with 10:27 left in the quarter.
After a Derek Dimke field goal put the Illini up 20-13, Western Michigan tied the game late in the quarter on a seven-yard pass from Carder to White. Early in the fourth quarter, though, Pollard gave the Illini the edge they would use to win.
On a first and 10 at the Illinois 30, the back squirted out of the middle of the Illini offense and down the right sideline for his 49 yard run, forced out by cornerback Lewis Toller.
A few plays later, with 8:14 left in the game, Dimke hit the 21-yard field goal that put Illinois up 23-20.
Western Michigan travels to Connecticut next Saturday while Illinois opens Big Ten at home again Northwestern, the fifth straight home game for the Illini.
Illinois completes comeback in final minute to defeat rival Northwestern (Week 5)
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa threatened to steal the show, but Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase owned the last act.
Scheelhaase squirmed his way into the end zone from a half-yard out with 13 seconds left Saturday to lead No. 24 Illinois back -- for the second time -- to beat Northwestern, 38-35.
After the game, and a week of back and forth between the longtime rivals about school which is really Chicago's Big Ten team, the sophomore quarterback stood near midfield holding the Land of Lincoln trophy -- a replica of Abe Lincoln's hat the teams now play for -- as "Sweet Home Chicago" played over the PA.
"We kept believing," said Scheelhaase, whose team stayed undefeated at 5-0 (1-0 Big Ten). "We talked about that all week -- just believing in us as an offense, just believing in the defense, believing in what this team's all about, and that's what we did throughout the game.
"There were ups and downs," he added, "and we knew there would be ups and downs."
After a first half of penalties and turnovers, the Illini scored 28 points in the second half, scorching the Wildcats (2-2, 0-1) secondary for 218 yards in the third and fourth quarters. Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins caught 12 balls for a school-record 268 yards and three touchdowns.
"Shocked," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said, describing his reaction to his team's collapse. "(Illinois did) nothing that we didn't work on and nothing that we didn't prepare for, which is probably the most disappointing aspect of the whole day."
Persa threw four touchdown passes in his first game back after tearing his right Achilles tendon last season, but he pulled himself from the game late after possibly reaggravating the injury.
Scheelhaase overcame a first half in which he threw an interception in the Wildcats end zone and pitched another ball away for a fumble that set up a Northwestern TD. And he had to engineer not one but two second-half comebacks.
The first brought the Illini back from the 18-point deficit. It was Illinois' biggest deficit of the season and largely the work of Persa, who had four touchdowns in his first game since tearing the Achilles tendon in his right leg late last season.
The second Illinois comeback started with just over a minute to play.
With Persa on the bench, the Wildcats scored a go-ahead touchdown that made it 35-31 with 1:15 to play. They converted after Tyler Scott recovered Jason Ford's fumble at the Illinois 36. Jacob Schmidt's 6-yard run capped the drive.
But Scheelhaase went to work and, as he'd done much of the second half, started looking for Jenkins. He found the wide receiver on a 28-yard completion that moved the ball to the Wildcats 41. Then the quarterback took off on his own, for 22 yards. An interference call on Wildcats cornerback Jeravin Matthews moved the ball to the 4 and, on third and goal, Scheelhaase bulled his way in.
"I think Nathan took a little step today in his own confidence level," Illini coach Ron Zook said. "Not that he worries about confidence, but he knows he can run, and now he knows he can throw."
Scheelhaase threw for a career-high 391 yards and three touchdowns -- all to Jenkins, who now has 40 catches on the season for 633 yards. That's just 113 yards short of his total for last season, when he was Illinois' top receiver.
"I think he knows he has a chance to be a pretty good receiver, one of the better receivers in the Big Ten," Zook said.
Scheelhaase's and Illinois' first-half struggles helped put them in a deep hole.
The Illini couldn't run the ball. Averaging 241.8 yards a game, Illinois had just 32 yards at halftime and finished with just 82.
"They were going to try and not let us run the ball," offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said. "Going into the game, we thought we had to throw deep. "
Illinois also had five first-half penalties, including a questionable offensive pass interference call on Spencer Harris that wiped out his diving touchdown catch late in the second quarter.
Earlier, Scheelhaase threw a pass up for grabs from the Wildcats 4 that was hauled in on one hand by safety Brian Peters. Later, Scheelhaase tried to pitch the ball to Troy Pollard, but the back never seemed to see it and Northwestern jumped on it, setting up one of Persa's TD passes.
Persa finished just 10 of 14 for 123 yards but had the four touchdown passes.
He said after the game that his Achilles tendon started to hurt after a hit in the fourth quarter.
"I told my coach it was starting to stiffen up and, in the past, that's when steps back have happened, so it was my decision," he said. Fitzgerald initially called the move precautionary.
But Persa left his mark on the game.
With a fourth-and-5 from the Illinois 34 and his receivers covered, Persa scrambled straight back to his own 48 and waited, finally seeing Schmidt pop open on his right. Persa flung the ball toward Schmidt, who brought it down and ran for a first down at the Illini 23.
Later, Persa found Jeremy Ebert in the left corner of the end zone for an 11-yard TD pass and a 28-10 lead.
Ebert had five catches for 68 yards and three touchdowns.
But Persa's TDs and 28-10 lead they gave the Wildcats, in the end, just set the table for Scheelhaase and his first big comeback.
That ended with a 1-yard touchdown by freshman tailback Donovonn Young and put the Illini up 31-28.
GO ILLINOIS!! :-)Quote:
No. 19 Illinois improves to 6-0 after cruising past Indiana (Week 6)
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A.J. Jenkins blew right past Indiana's busted coverage. Twice.
Nathan Scheelhaase made the right read and the perfect throw -- both times.
The big-play tandem hooked up for scoring passes of 77 and 67 yards in the first half Saturday, rallying No. 19 Illinois from an early 10-point deficit to a 41-20 victory.
"We had to take advantage of that and whenever the defense messes up, you want to take advantage, so that one was a little surprising," Scheelhaase said. "The other one was just a great route by him getting off press coverage and making a great play."
This was not just another weekly test for Illinois (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten).
The Illini needed to prove they could win on the road, stay among the shrinking unbeaten ranks and prove that those last three 3-point victories were the aberration, not the norm.
They accomplished all three three by making the Hoosiers (1-5, 0-2) pay for three big mistakes -- on the two TD passes from Scheelhaase to Jenkins and a 66-yard fumble recovery for a score that changed the game.
Scheelhaase finished 12 of 22 for 210 yards with three TDs. Jenkins, the Big Ten's top receiver, had six receptions for 182 yards and two scores.
The victory puts Illinois in position to match the 7-0 start of the 1951 team next week when Ohio State visits Champaign.
"That's where we wanted to be," Scheelhaase said. "We wanted to be 6-0 going into this game. We're excited about the point we've gotten to right now, and we're looking forward to going back home and playing Ohio State."
Illinois' success came as no surprise to Indiana coach Kevin Wilson, who had warned his players all week that the Illini would convert mistakes into scores.
The Hoosiers have now lost three straight overall and 13 in a row against ranked opponents, dating to a 31-28 victory over then No. 13 Iowa on Oct. 14, 2006. Now they'll hit the road for back-to-back road games at No. 4 Wisconsin and Iowa with a still unsettled quarterback rotation.
The original starter, Edward Wright-Baker, missed his second straight game with an ankle injury. Nicked up Dusty Kiel started for the second straight week but was replaced by true freshman Tre Roberson after hurting his ankle in the second half. Kiel was 6 of 19 for 71 yards with one lost fumble. Roberson finished 11 of 17 for 148 yards with one interception and led Indiana to a late touchdown, the only offensive TD of the day.
"It wasn't a battlefield demotion as much, I think Dusty was a little nicked and couldn't put some mustard on the ball. It was nice to see Tre make a few plays," Wilson said. "Good team, tough loss, same story."
This one was wild and wacky, though.
Hoosiers freshman Shane Wynn took the opening kickoff at the 1-yard line, found a hole up the middle and sprinted 99 yards for a TD to make it 7-0 just 12 seconds into the game.
On Illinois' second series, Donovonn Young dropped a handoff near midfield. Brandon McGhee recovered for Indiana and six plays later, Mitch Ewald made a 44-yard field goal to give Indiana a 10-0 lead.
Illinois then took matters into its own hands.
The Illini picked up an all-out blitz, giving Scheelhaase just enough time to loft a pass to the wide open Jenkins, who caught the ball, turned inside of one defender and had nobody else to beat en route to the 77-yard play that made it 10-7.
The Hoosiers were back in field-goal range again on their next series, only this time, Whitney Mercilus stripped the ball from Kiel on a sack, and Tavon Wilson scooped it up and raced 66 yards to give Illinois a 14-10 lead. The Illini never trailed again, even holding the Hoosiers to a field goal after they recovered a fumble at the Illinois 3.
"They got 21 points off of three plays, one's a busted coverage when a guy blitzes that shouldn't and that's going to happen some," Wilson said. "Another's on a scoop and score when we bust a maximum protection, and the last one they make a nice competitive one-on-one play to a good receiver on a guy that's playing good for us."
Then the Illini poured it on.
Scheelhaase found Jon Davis for a 3-yard score midway through the second quarter, and put a pass perfectly on the fingertips of Jenkins, who went 67 yards down the right sideline to make it 27-13 late in the first half.
Scheelhaase sealed the win with a 9-yard TD run late in the third quarter, and all the Hoosiers could muster was a 2-yard TD run from Roberson with 5:29 left in the game.
"We're a good team," coach Ron Zook said. "But as I told them to be a great team, we've got to do a lot more."
Dan Herron runs for 114 yards, TD as unranked Ohio State tops Illinois (Week 7)
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Still stuck under the NCAA cloud hanging over Ohio State and desperate for a way to end a two-game losing streak, interim coach Luke Fickell drew up a game plan Saturday that conservative Buckeye legend Woody Hayes would have loved.
Keep the ball on the ground and out of freshman quarterback Braxton Miller's hands, lean hard on tailback Dan Herron -- playing his first game since January after serving a pair of NCAA suspensions -- and count on the defense to stop No. 16 Illinois.
It worked, all of it, and the Buckeyes (4-3, 1-2) ground out a 17-7 upset over the Illini (6-1, 2-1).
"The game plan was to win -- that's the ultimate, most important thing," Fickell said. "However way we had to do it, we were ready to do it."
The defense forced three turnovers -- two of which set up the Buckeyes' touchdowns -- while Miller threw just four passes. Herron carried the ball 23 times for 114 yards and the third-quarter score that was the game winner.
"It was hard staying at home and watching the games," said Herron, who missed the season's first six games. "Now that I'm back out here, I'm doing everything I can to help this team, be a leader and get some more wins."
The loss ended Illinois' perfect start, and, in a game the Illini hoped would help them prove they were for real, raised questions about how good they really are.
"We have got to regroup, and we're still in a position to control our own destiny," Illinois coach Ron Zook said. "I think our guys have to understand that and they do."
A week after Miller lost a fumble that gave Nebraska a way to get back into their game against Ohio State -- which the Cornhuskers turned into an epic win -- the Buckeyes kept it simple, real simple, and gave themselves a chance to win.
The Buckeyes didn't throw their first pass until the 7:22 mark of the second quarter. Miller, in fact, didn't complete a pass until he hit tight end Jake Stoneburner on a 17-yard TD pass with 13:06 left in the game for a 17-0 lead.
"Up 10-0, we were on the sideline saying, 'Man, we haven't made a pass yet,' " Stoneburner said. "It was kind of funny, but we were all saying, 'Who cares?' We're up, and if we complete one pass, I'll take the catch."
No Ohio State team had gone through a game with just one completion since 1976, a 22-21 loss to Missouri with Rod Gerald under center.
That Ohio State team was ranked No. 2, while this one was just trying to get its head above water, end the two-game losing streak and chalk up its first Big Ten win.
Enter Herron, who had to sit out six games as a result of his role in a cash-for-memorablia scandal -- the mess that cost ex-coach Jim Tressel his job -- and then for taking too much money for a summer job.
Fickell said during the week he wasn't sure how much the senior tailback would play and he wasn't listed as the starter.
But Herron was in the backfield from the beginning, and carried the bulk of the load on the opening drive, one that on a day of gusty 20-plus mph winds delivered a 45-yard Drew Basil field goal. It was the only score of the half.
The Ohio State defense, meanwhile, played big, holding an Illini offense that was averaging almost 450 yards and 34.7 points a game to 285 yards and, until the 6:22 mark of the fourth quarter, no points.
Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was 20 of 34 for 169 yards, with two interceptions and a late 3-yard touchdown pass to Evan Wilson that finally put the Illini on the board.
Illinois hasn't been shutout since losing 30-0 two seasons ago at Ohio State.
"The biggest thing when you look at this is the turnovers," Zook said. "In the past we've held teams to field goals instead of touchdowns and they were able to get two touchdowns off of the turnovers."
Stoneburner's touchdown was set up by an A.J. Jenkins fumble at the Illinois 37 while Herron's 12-yard touchdown run -- which gave the Buckeyes a 10-0 lead -- followed an interception by Bradley Roby that he returned to the Illinois 12. Scheelhaase threw to Jenkins and the receiver appeared to ruin a shorter route than Scheelhaase anticipated. The ball flew 10 yards past Jenkins and right at Roby.
"It was key," Roby said of his interception, "because we were coming out of halftime and we needed a big play. I was in a cover three, and I was backing up when I saw (Jenkins) on the curl, and then I saw the ball come right at me."
In addition to stifling Scheelhaase, the Buckeyes also held Illinois other big weapon in check.
Roby said during the week that Jenkins, who was averaging 135.8 yards a game, was "nothing special, a product of Illinois' system." Jenkins, often covered by Roby, had 80 yards Saturday, but his eight catches didn't amount to much.
Illinois senior tailback Jason Ford left the game in the third quarter with an injured left shoulder after a big hit on a first-down carry. He finished with 30 yards on six carries.
Scheelhaase was Illinois' leading rusher with 16 carries for 49 yards.
D'oh! Fvck Ohio State.