Ohio State Football 2011
Return of Herron Results in Upset Win
Ohio State's offense really needed a boost coming into Saturday's game against the 16th ranked Illinois Fighting Illini.
The Buckeyes got exactly what they needed when running back Dan "Boom" Herron returned to the starting lineup for the first time this season after serving a pair of NCAA suspensions.
Herron led OSU to a 17-7 road victory while carrying the ball 23 times for 114 yards and the third-quarter score that proved to be the game winner.
With Herron controlling the tempo on offense, the Buckeyes defense shut down a potent Illinois offense, forcing three turnovers, two of which OSU converted into scores.
It was apparent early the Buckeyes game plan to pound the football on the ground.
In fact, the Buckeyes didn't throw their first pass until the 7:22 mark of the second quarter. Furthermore, freshman QB Braxton Miller, didn't complete a pass until he hit tight end Jake Stoneburner on a 17-yard TD pass with 13:06 left in the game for a 17-0 lead.
No Ohio State team had gone through a game with just one completion since 1976, a 22-21 loss to Missouri with Rod Gerald as the OSU signal caller.
Interim head coach Luke Fickell was asked about the game plan following the game.
"The game plan was to win. That's the ultimate, most important thing," Fickell said. "However way we had to do it, we were ready to do it."
Fickell said during the week he wasn't sure how much Herron would play and he wasn't listed as the starter.
But Herron was in the backfield from the beginning, and carried the bulk of the load on the opening drive, one that resulted in a 45-yard field goal by Drew Basil despite gusty, 20-plus mph winds. It was the only score of the first half.
As mentioned, the Ohio State defense played big, holding an Illini offense that was averaging almost 450 yards and 34.7 points a game to 285 yards and, until the 6:22 mark of the fourth quarter, to no points.
Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was 20-of-34 for 169 yards, with two interceptions and a late 3-yard touchdown pass to Evan Wilson that finally put the Illini on the board.
The win snaps a two-game losing streak and improves the Buckeyes record to 4-3 overall including 1-2 in the Big Ten. The loss for the Illini was their first on the season as the drop to 6-1 overall, 2-1 in the conference.
OSU will get a much needed bye next week and will resume play on Halloween weekend as they welcome the undefeated Wisconsin Badgers into Columbus.
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