No. 9 Ohio State blasts Illinois to win division

By Doug Bean, The Sports Xchange  |  Nov. 18, 2017 at 11:11 PM
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- No. 9 Ohio State scored four touchdowns in the first 13 minutes and raced to a 52-14 victory over Illinois on Saturday at Ohio Stadium that secured a berth in the Big Ten championship game.

Binjamin Victor caught two touchdown passes, Mike Weber rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries and J.K. Dobbins ran for a score in limited minutes for the Buckeyes (9-2, 7-1 Big Ten) in the blowout.

J.T. Barrett, playing his final home game as Ohio State's quarterback, completed 11 of 19 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. The senior added 33 rushing yards and a touchdown on five carries.

Barrett and many of the starters left the game midway through the second quarter after Ohio State opened a 38-0 lead and a driving rainstorm drove fans for cover. Barrett returned briefly in the second half to lead a touchdown drive that ended with a 12-yard pass to tight end Marcus Baugh for a 45-7 lead.

The Buckeyes, a 41-point favorite, completely dominated the Fighting Illini, racking up 543 total yards and clinching a share of the Big Ten East Division title while remaining in the College Football Playoff picture.

Ohio State could still finish in a tie atop the division standings with Michigan State and Penn State but the Buckeyes hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over both teams. Ohio State finishes the regular season at Michigan next week.

Illinois (2-9, 0-8) lost its ninth consecutive game after starting the season 2-0. The Illini did not pick up a first down until the final three minutes before halftime and didn't produce another first down until two minutes remained in the third quarter.

Ohio native Chayce Crouch started at quarterback for Illinois because of injuries and was just 4-of-14 passing for just 16 yards. He was injured late in the game on a late hit out of bounds and left the game.

Illinois managed just 105 total yards and five first downs, but more than half of the yards came in the fourth quarter after the outcome was decided.

Dre Brown rushed for 76 yards on 15 carries for the Illini.

Three of Ohio State's four first-quarter touchdowns came on the ground. Weber reached the end zone from 4 and 43 yards, and Barrett stretched the ball over the goal line on a 3-yard keeper.

The fourth touchdown of the opening quarter was an 11-yard pass from Barrett to Victor.

In the second quarter, Sean Nuernberger kicked a 33-yard field goal and Dobbins scored on a 1-yard run as Ohio State took a 38-0 lead into halftime.

Illinois' defense scored the Illini's first touchdown. Ahmari Hayes picked up a fumble by Ohio State backup quarterback Dwayne Haskins and returned it 54 yards early in the third quarter.

Cam Miller came in at quarterback after Crouch was injured in the fourth quarter and scored on a 9-yard run.

NOTES: Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett broke the school record for rushing yards by a quarterback held by Braxton Miller. ... Nineteen seniors played their final home game for Ohio State. ... Illinois QBs Cam Thomas (concussion) and Jeff George Jr. (hand), the starters in recent games, were not expected to play, but Thomas entered in the fourth quarter. ... Illinois coach Lovie Smith was an assistant at Ohio State in 1995. ... Ohio State C Billy Price started a school-record 52nd straight game.

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