Ohio State could have been forgiven for giving up on its year at any number of points in the 2011 college football season so far. But the Buckeyes haven't, and staged a Big Ten upset this Saturday by shutting down Illinois, 17-7, and handing the Illini their first loss of 2011.
It wasn't pretty. The Buckeyes relied on a patient, unspectacular running game (51 carries, 211 yards) led by Dan Herron (23 carries, 114 yards) and a defense that gave its offense good field position. Ohio State drove more than 50 yards just once, and punted in Illinois territory to end that drive.
Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller, recovering from an injury that knocked him out of last week's loss to Nebraska and marked the turning point in that game, threw just four passes and completed just one, but that completion was a 17-yard touchdown to Jake Stoneburner, and his 35-yard run was the longest play of Ohio State's afternoon.
Illinois' offense may have been even less inspiring. The Illini were held to under 300 yards, their second such outing in 2011, and three turnovers scuttled the offense's chances to catch up to the slightly faster turtle. Oh, and the Illini went for it on fourth down while down 10 points with a bit more than a minute to go; their failure ensured Ohio State's victory.
The loss is Illinois' first on the year; the win is Ohio State's first in Big Ten play in 2011. With the result, Wisconsin is the lone unbeaten left in the Big Ten.
For more on the Illini head over to the SB Nation blog Hail to the Orange. For more on the Buckeyes, check out Along the Olentangy. For more on Saturday's action, check out the Week 7 college football scores and news StoryStream.