By DAVID MERCER, Associated Press Writer
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Ohio State got a glimpse of life without quarterback Terrelle Pryor. It wasn't pretty.
With Pryor out of the game with a strained left quadriceps muscle and backup Joe Bauserman at the controls, No. 2 Ohio State struggled to move the ball in a 24-13 victory against Illinois on Saturday.
Pryor's status for next Saturday's home game against Indiana is up in the air because of the injury.
"Hopefully we get the right treatment going, so I'll be fine and back to myself," Pryor said.
Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel guessed Pryor would be healthy enough to play.
Pryor hurt the muscle in his upper leg on a run around the left end for a first down during the third quarter with the Buckeyes (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) leading 14-10. He returned a couple series later.
"I thought I was going to the house on it," he said, explaining that he heard and felt something pop before dropping to the ground.
"From where I was," Tressel added, "I was just wondering if he fell on that knee the same way he had fallen on it a year ago and had reaggravated something there. ... Once I got over there and they were starting to have him get up and go, obviously I felt a lot better."
Helping Tressel feel better still, and keeping the Illini in check while the Buckeyes scrounged for points was the Buckeyes' defense.
After the first quarter, Ohio State held the Illini to a pair of field goals and 119 yards rushing. Mikel Leshoure managed 80 of those yards, his first game without 100 yards rushing since last fall.
"They tried to run the ball, and they broke a couple of runs — a great team will do that," Ohio State linebacker Brian Rolle said. "But the test was to see how our defense would step up to it, and I think we did a great job."
The Buckeyes rushed for 213 yards, but at halftime they led just 14-10, had turned the ball over once on an interception and were struggling to protect Pryor. He was sacked twice in the firs half.
"We played hard up until the end when they got outside us a little bit," Illini coach Ron Zook said. "We are continuing to get better and better on defense which is the key thing."
Illinois (2-2, 0-1) plays its next two on the road against Penn State and Michigan State. But redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase said the team, trying to rebound from a 3-9 season that led to most of Zook's staff being fired and an ultimatum that the team improve, is starting to show that it can play.
"I think we've kind of proved something to ourselves," he said. "We know what we've got. We know we are a team that can give any team in the country a game."