Well, even when the game was completely out of reach (48-0), Illinois kept fighting. Completely outmatched and underperforming, one thing that at least wasn't questionable was Illinois' effort. The players didn't give up on plays and kept after it even when the odds were way against them. It sounds a little patronizing, but the refusal to cave in once the game was a blowout is a positive.
Beckman Shows Some Fire
Lately "fire" and "Tim Beckman" have been used in sentences in a different context entirely, but Tim Beckman is still fighting FOR his team. When punter Justin DuVernois was hit on an attempt in the game, Beckman was all over the officials to make his case for a call, and when no call was made, he got on the official enough to warrant a flag. In Beckman's favor, the call was blown, and should have resulted in at least a "running into the punter" flag, but given some of Beckman's past penalties on the sidelines, I think this one actually is justified and proves Beckman isn't afraid to fight for his cause.
Tackling: They Missed It
Against Minnesota, Illinois tackled very effectively and swarmed to the ball, but against Ohio State, the Illini reverted back to old ways when it came to finishing plays on defense. Some of that is due to a difference in physicality between Ohio State and Minnesota, but in a lot of cases, Illinois bit on fakes and play action, and as a result, they weren't able to gang tackle and finish the same way they did against Minnesota. J.T. Barrett was a much better runner than most people expected given his supposed knee injury, but Illinois had to play a disciplined game from start to finish, and when they didn't, the Buckeyes made Illinois pay.
Handouts, Four of them:
Against Minnesota, Illinois was successful because they won the turnover battle (3 to 1 over the Gophers), but the turnovers started early against Ohio State and ultimately gave the Buckeyes an advantage the Illini couldn't afford to surrender under any circumstances. A blown catch by LaCosse on the opening drive was picked off by Darron Lee and returned 26 yards and later in the game, a low pass to Dudek ended up in the hands of Curtis Grant. A pair of fumbles capped off Illinois' turnover woes and placed added pressure on an Illinois defense that was already facing a huge challenge even before the turnovers happened.
Busy Day at the Trainer's Table:
The injuries are piling up for Illinois, especially on the offensive and defensive lines. Ted Karras ended up on crutches on the sideline before halftime, and center Joe Spencer was replaced by senior Alex Hill after being shaken up in the second half. Against a vicious Ohio State defensive line led by Joey Bosa, the Illinois offensive line couldn't hold up as depth was depleted. The defensive line came into the game already pretty thin, with Kenny Nelson being ruled out earlier in the week for the rest of the season. Down Nelson in addition to Teko Powell and Carroll Phillips, the defensive line is getting by with what they have, but couldn't generate the rush needed as depth is waning.