Buckeyes upend unbeaten Illinois with one completed pass
by, 10-15-2011 at 06:40 PM (428 Views)
Somewhere, Woody Hayes has a smile you couldn't pry off his face with a crowbar.
Luke Fickell's Buckeyes beat Illinois on the road while throwing only four passes, completing just one. That throw from Braxton Miller to Jake Stoneburner was a backbreaking touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Woody's proud folks.
What the freshman quarterback managed to accomplish was, for the second straight week, providing a spark to his offense with his feet and continuing to not make stupid decisions with the football. How many passes he completed is irrelevant, only the win matters.
And the win is key to the Buckeye season. The win puts them at 4-3 going into the off week with Wisconsin coming to try to seal their dominance of the Big Ten next.
While the formula seen today probably doesn't work against a Badger defense that is built to stop the run, it does buy Luke Fickell a bit of time to get his team through two weeks of practice on a positive note. It allows Braxton Miller to get through a game healthy and to shut up the talk on local radio of who the backup quarterback needs to be. For the first time all season, Joe Bauserman did not step on the field while the clock was running, and that was key.
We also saw a young coach start to grow up with his team. Fickell knows it's going to take a miracle for him to be named the permanent coach after this season, but he did what he needed to do to get his team through today. The offense did nothing but what they had done successfully all year, run the freakin' ball. The defense did what they do effectively, rush the passer, stop the run, and create opportunities with turnovers.
The Silver Bullets looked great, and it started up front with the efforts of Johnathan Hankins and John Simon. It continued with positive contributions from the linebackers, hard hits (and more importantly, fewer missed tackles) from the safeties Barnett and Bryant, and a shutdown performance from Travis Howard and Bradley Roby on A.J. Jenkins, one of the better senior receivers in the nation.
What the Buckeyes did today was to muffle the critics for two weeks, and to buy themselves a little breathing room going into the Wisconsin game. That's a sign of progress in Columbus.