Illinois has all the "Juice", upsets #1 Ohio State 28-21
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Fairy Tale ride is over. After dominating opponents all season, the Buckeyes finally met their match in an Illinois squad led by quaterback Juice Williams. Behind his 140 passing yards and four touchdown passes, the Illini added Ohio State to the long list of top ranked teams who were upset this season.
The game came down to the play of the two quarterbacks, or lack there of. While the Illini's Williams shined, Boeckman struggled. Ohio State was never able to get a rhthym going aginst the talented Illinois defense, and its defense, well it just never showed up. They surrendered 400 yards to their conference foe and time after time were unable to stop the Illini on crucial third down conversions. Their biggest nemisis, however, was a poor secondary that was constantly missing assignments. When all was said and done though, the fact of the matter is Illinois came ready to play. Ohio State simply did not. Whether or not they were caught looking ahead to Michigan remains to be heard, but regardless, they will clash with the Wolverines next week with the Big Ten title on the line.
"These kinds of losses are hard to take, and it's tough to reignite that enthusiasm again," Boeckman said. "It's even tougher being a leader on this team and knowing you could have played better and helped out the team. We have to get back out there and get ready for Michigan."
The Buckeyes struggled to stop the run the entire game, giving up 260 yards on the ground. Dufrene had 106 of those yards, while Mendenhall had 88 and Williams 70. For having the No. 3 rush defense in the nation, it sure didn't show tonight. Illinois seemingly moved the ball at will, especially that final drive when they ran out the clock on 16-straight plays.
Game Ball Goes to: Juice Williams
This is a no brainer. Though he completed just 12 of his 22 pass attempts for 140 yards, he threw a career-high four touchdowns. He also ran 16 times for 70 yards, picking up one crucial first down after another.
Play of the Game:
Juice Williams connected with Brian Gamble for an 8-yard touchdown pass in the third to go ahead 28-14, a lead they never relinquished.
"He managed the game well and after today, we can all see why he is our starter," Illinois head coach Ron Zook said. "When the game is on the line, he does what needs to be done. He is a tough competitor who plays the game well."
Realisticly, I don't think anyone thought the Buckeyes would get to where they were entering this game. Few would have predicted they would be 9-0, so to be where they are now is still quite a feat. I've been a firm believer the entire season that Ohio State should have been the No.1 team when they first moved to the spot. They defended that position week after week and passed every test they were given until today. With that said though, I think all Buckeye fans were given a reality check. Not to take anything from Illinois, but Ohio State's secondary was pathetic. They struggled against Wisconsin, but it was kind of brushed off because it was the first time they were exploited. But after seeing their defense get picked apart once again, I'm beginning to wonder what would have happened if Ohio State took on Oregon or LSU in the National Championship game. Well, all Buckeye fans will be able to do now is wonder.
Stats of the Game:
TURNOVERS: Illinois - 0 // Ohio State - 3
Total Yards: Illinois - 400 yards // Ohio State - 335 yards
Rushing Yards: Illinois - 260 yards // Ohio State 179
Ohio State: If there is anything that could ease the sting of this loss, it would be a win at Michigan next week. It won't come easy, however, as both teams are coming off upset losses and are loaded with disgust and anger. Illinois didn't help matters with Ohio State's anger though, as they envoked a scuffle with the Buckeye players when they began dancing on the Block O at midfield following the game. Expect an extremely heated game come Nov. 17th.
"The biggest thing is we have to go home and reflect on it a little bit, but we can't harp on it for too long," Ohio State defensive end Vernon Gholston said. "We still have one of our goals to achieve, winning the Big Ten, intact."
Illinois: The Illini will look to impove to 8-3 next week when they take on Northwestern. A 8-3 record would be quite an improvement over last season after they finished 2-10.