Halftime Breakdown: Illinois vs. Ohio State
After a three and out on the Buckeyes first possession, Ohio State fans were restless, worried about another slow start.
Those concerns seemed justified when Illinois took a 3-0 lead.
After OSU scored its first touchdown, the Buckeyes scored on five straight drives to take a 31-6 lead at halftime.
The story so far for Ohio State has been quarterback Braxton Miller. He’s completed 5 of 10 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown, the first time since 2007 that the Buckeyes have thrown for more than 100 against the Illini.
Miller has also danced and darted around with several breath-taking runs, which have added up to 77 yards on 14 carries.
Carlos Hyde has scored three times on his nine carries, which have totaled 62 yards rushing. Hyde now has 11 touchdowns in his last five games, dating back to the Nebraska game.
As a team, Ohio State now has 32 rushing touchdowns, which is the most in the Big Ten, and the most by a Buckeye squad since 1984 (35).
The Buckeyes have a big advantage in offense, with 310 yards of total offense, and allowing just 138 to Illinois so far. OSU leads in rushing 158 to 62, and 152 to 76 in passing.
Another telling stat is yards per play. The Buckeyes are averaging 8.2, while the Illini has mustered just 3.3.
Nathan Scheelhaase has done most of the work for the Illini, as the quarterback has run for 48 (on 11 carries), and thrown for 76 (13 of 24 passing, with an interception).
For the OSU defense, Ryan Shazier is continuing his torrid play of late, leading the Buckeyes with 8 first half tackles.
While Illinois had some moderate success early moving the ball, the Silver Bullets only allowed two field goals, In fact, OSU has only allowed a touchdown in 7 of its last 9 quarters.
One thing that has been woeful for both teams is punting. Illinois is averaging 33.2 yards per kick on four punts, while the Buckeyes have just 29.5 yards per try (two punts).
Expect some back-ups to see playing time in the second half, which would bring welcomed relief to OSU’s starters. It would come at a good time, with the bye week ahead.
The Buckeyes have beaten Illinois four straight (officially the 2010 win was vacated) times.