If you lost your cat or dog you might want to look in Ohio Stadium. The rain was steady at kick-off. By Halftime, it resembled the 'bad seat' in one of those circular vessel water rides at Kings Island. The only thing that was raining harder - the Ohio State defensive line.
The Silver Bullet defense administered their second shutout in as many weeks as the Buckeye's physically dominated the Illini 30-0. Before the game, the Illini tried their best to imtimidate the Buckeyes at mid-field. The party was short-lived. There would be no Block-O stomping from the opposition on this day. Illinois had 2 weeks to prepare, but had no answer against Ohio State's front-line. Thadeous Gibson broke out with 3 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and 1 sack. In the final three quarters, Thad's NFL stock soared as he looked unstoppable, beating OT's with crippling bull-rushes, and running down a speedy Juice WIlliams and Co. from the back-side. Even Musberger chimed in saying, "I know it appears as if there's more than one #90 out there folks, but there's only one". I thought I was watching Lawrence Taylor in an old Tecmo Bowl tournament.
It wasn't just Gibson. Lawrence Wilson played tough against the run and recorded the second interception of his career. Wilson jumped up with excitment that could only be explained by those who understand what he has gone through.For those of you who are out of 'the know' - Wilson has had two consecutive, season-ending, and career threatening leg injuries. Many were not sure if he could be effective this season - if play at all. The moment was worth every second of rehab, every game on the sidelines, without shoulder pads, every missed start, the pain dissapeared as the fallen star had ascended and became the center of the Buckeye universe once again. Not to be outshined, Doug Worthington garnered 'Defensive Player of the Week' honors, and fellow lineman Dexter Larimore, Cameron Heyward, and Todd Denlinger, played out of this world. Denlinger recorded one of five sacks on the day for the Buckeyes. Ohio State held Illinois to 170 total yards of offense. Fans worried after Navy sustained long drive after long drive in the opener. Since, Ohio State has only allowed 2 drives of over 45 yards(3 gms).
Captain Kurt Coleman recorded nine tackles on the day, but was suspended for the Indiana game following a post game review from the referee's. The ref's deemed that Coleman made helmet to helmet contact on a defenseless player. I remember the hit vividly, question the helmet to helmet contact, and I'm outraged by the suspension. First of all, the contact was with the shoulder and facemask. We all know that these helmet to helmet penalties were created for the safety of 'the hitter', and 'the hittee', but are usually reserved for the lowering of the defensive players head(I.E.spearing). Second of all, the flag on the play was terribly late. I'll settle for a personal foul on the play, but a one-game suspension seems way out of line for something that the ref's hesitated to throw the flag on. Not that it's going to matter.
Brian Rolle turned away the Illini opening drive with an interception that looked like a carbon copy of the Navy game. Ross Homan left the game with an undisclosed injury. It appeared as if he had his bell rung. He shook his head a couple times between plays after a violent tackle, and then sat out most of game. Andrew Sweat looked good in relief.
The offense scrapped the usual Terrelle to Dane Sanzenbacher bomb, and settled for a steady dose of Brandon Saine and Boom Herron. Saine led the way with 13 carries for 82 yards. Brandon is leading the Buckeye running backs with 5.7 yards per carry. The only player who's averaging more - is quarterback Terrelle Pryor(6.0). Pryor was limited to 82 yards on 13 pass attempts(8 completions), but the Buckeye offense rolled up 236 on the ground. Pryor had only 59 yards rushing , but still leads the team in rushing through 4 games.
Left Tackle Mike Adams came in to spell Andy Miller against Toledo last week, and played fantastic. This week, he started, and he tried on his Halloween costume early. If 'Mikey the Road Grater' knocks on YOUR door - be sure to give him some candy, as to not suffer the same fate as the Illinois defensive front. Picture 'Bill the neighbor', holding an empty basket of what used to be candy, lying on his back, wondering what in the *&#$ just happened. Adam's appears to be taking over at LT. The Ohio State offensive line is improving week-by-week. It is hard to believe that this line will return intact in 2010. Senior Jim Cordle will remain on the sidelines for at least 2 more weeks. No offense to Jim, but the line has not skipped a beat since your injury. If anything, they have improved. Cordle will have have his hands full staving off his replacement, J.B.Shugarts. The Ohio State offensive line has surrendered just TWO SACKS ALL SEASON(1-Toledo, 1-USC)! If that stat doesn't sum up the production of this offensive line - I don't know what does.
The Offense didn't look as exciting because of the weather, but dominated all-the-same. Ohio State had zero passing yards in the first half(2 att). Ohio State plays Indiana next weekend. The Hoosiers lost in the BigHouse 36-33. Hopefully, that score will ensure that the Buckeyes prepare the same for the 3 touchdown underdog. Indiana will have the homefield advantage in theory alone, as a large contingent of 'The Buckeye Nation' will be on hand in Bloomington. O-H-!!!