Ohio State holds off Illinois to stay unbeaten
Champaign, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Carlos Hyde rushed for 246 yards and scored five total touchdowns, the last two on runs over 50 yards near the end of the game to help No. 3 Ohio State pull away for a 60-35 win over Illinois on Saturday.
Hyde's touchdown runs of 51 and 55 yards -- his third and fourth of the game -- were separated by less than two minutes and turned a 12-point lead with four minutes left into a 25-point margin.
The Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) extended the country's longest winning streak to 22, but allowed a team that had lost 19 straight conference games to keep it close in the second half.
"You look at it from a boxing standpoint," said Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. "We came out and they knocked us down twice in part of the first two rounds and I think any time you deal with that it shakes you up a little bit but I was just so happy with the way we responded. I mean we stood up and we fought until the 15th round."
Braxton Miller was 13-of-29 for 150 yards and touchdown passes to Hyde and Corey "Philly" Brown, and Bradley Roby returned an interception 63 yards for a score in the win. Miller also rushed for 184 yards, much of it on a 70-yard run for Ohio State's first touchdown.
The Buckeyes were a distant No. 3 in the latest BCS standings behind Alabama and Florida State. With Stanford and Baylor close behind, many have wondered if Ohio State's weaker remaining schedule could mean it would be leaped in the standings.
The Buckeyes are home against Indiana next Saturday before closing the regular season at Michigan.
"We have to make sure that our focus is on getting better each week instead of all of the national stuff," said Urban Meyer, who improved to 22-0 as Buckeyes coach. "I think I'm learning a lesson to just shut my mouth and quit worrying about this and that. Let's get a little better."
Illinois (3-7, 0-6) had outscored the Buckeyes 21-12 in the second half before Hyde's late touchdown runs. It has lost 20 straight Big Ten games dating back to a win over Indiana on Oct. 8, 2011.
Scheelhaase was 33-of-50 for 288 yards with touchdown passes to Steve Hull and Evan Wilson. The quarterback also ran for a touchdown, as did Josh Ferguson, and V'Angelo Bentley scored on a 67-yard punt return.
"I thought our players battled to the dang end," said Illinois coach Tim Beckman. "They never came up short, they continued to fight."
The Buckeyes won their last two games by a combined score of 119-17. They led 35-14 at halftime in this one, but Illinois went 75 yards on the first drive of the third quarter and Scheelhaase hit Wilson for a 1-yard score to make it 35-21.
Miller lost the ball after a fake handoff and lineman Tim Kynard recovered the fumble for Illinois at its own 39, but the Illini punted.
Scheelhaase came out for one play on Illinois' next possession and Reilly O'Toole was strip-sacked by linebacker Ryan Shazier in the end zone. The Illini recovered the fumble, but the safety gave Ohio State a 37-21 lead.
Miller came out of the game after a helmet-to-shoulder late hit by Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown had him on his back for several minutes, but returned soon after.
After Hyde scored on a 1-yard run to make it 44-21, Drew Basil missed a 49- yard field goal attempt for Ohio State and Scheelhaase's 5-yard touchdown run had Illinois within 44-29 after a 2-point conversion failed.
Basil was good on his next try, from 30 yards, but Ferguson's 4-yard touchdown run pulled the Illini within 47-35.
Hyde's 51-yard run came on the second play of a drive (Basil missed the extra point try) and he opened the next Ohio State possession with a 55-yard scamper with 2:09 left.
"A win is a win, but I'm not pleased with the way we performed today," said Hyde. "If we get to where we want to go this year, we have to get better. We can't focus too much on our opponent's records; we just need to focus on what's good for us and that's getting better in practice. We need to play our game no matter who our opponent is."
Earlier, Miller faked a handoff on the third play from scrimmage, slipped through two defenders in the middle of the line and went untouched the rest of the way on his 70-yard touchdown run.
Hyde took a pass down the left sideline and scooted inside the pylon standing up on an 18-yard touchdown reception that made it 14-0 with five minutes left in the first quarter.
Four plays into the ensuing Illinois possession, Roby caught a tipped pass near the sideline and raced 63 yards to the end zone, and Miller found Brown in the back left corner of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-0 in the second quarter.
Pushed back into his own end zone by a 20-yard personal foul penalty on wide receiver Chris Fields, Ohio State's Cameron Johnston got off a good punt that had Bentley backing up to the Illinois 33. But Bentley slipped a defender, broke a tackle and took off down the right side for a 67-yard touchdown that got the Illini on the board.
Hyde's 8-yard touchdown run pushed Ohio State's advantage back to 28, but Scheelhaase found Hull from 19 yards to cut it to 35-14.
Illinois is at Purdue next week ... Ohio State has won the last six meetings between the teams since Illinois upset the top-ranked and undefeated Buckeyes on the road in 2007.
11/16 17:51:37 ET