The two points the Illini scored weren't the offense's fault, either. The points came on a return of a botched extra point in the third quarter.
Illinois came into the game with a 2-6 record and ranked at or near the bottom of every major statistical category in the Big Ten. Still, to the Illini's credit, the score was only 6-0 in favor of OSU in the latter stages of the second quarter. Josh Huston's 29- and 22-yard field goals gave the Buckeyes that lead, and a 41-yard touchdown pass from Troy Smith to Santonio Holmes with 2:20 left before halftime extended that advantage. But the Ohio State coaching staff was still displeased with the first-half performance by the offense.
"I did kind of let them have it (at halftime)," offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said in the Nov. 12, 2005, edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin. "I don't think we were playing up to snuff. (Illinois) played very hard the whole game. We needed to get back in the saddle, and it was good that we did."
Whatever Bollman said worked. The Buckeyes (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten) scored 27 points after the break and piled up 308 yards of total offense during the second half. Three of OSU's touchdowns during that timeframe came in the third quarter.
Holmes started the scoring burst with a 3-yard TD connection with Smith. Tailback Antonio Pittman added a 16-yard scoring run, and Ted Ginn Jr. hauled in a 73-yard touchdown pass from Smith that gave Ohio State a commanding 33-2 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Pittman closed the scoring early in the fourth quarter with an 8-yard TD run.
While the offense took time to get on track, the defense was sharp from the start. The Buckeyes held Illinois to 160 yards of total offense. Sixty-eight of those yards came on the ground, marking the fifth time in the 2005 season that the Buckeyes held an opposing offense under 100 yards on the ground. Illini quarterback Tim Brasic completed 18 of 24 passes for 92 yards, the third time in the '05 campaign that the Buckeyes held a passing attack under 100 yards.
"We wanted to make sure we came out and had fun and enjoyed it," OSU linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "We made a big deal this week about being enthusiastic and coming out and playing hard because last week (in a 41-31 win at Minnesota) we didn't really have that, I don't think."
Hawk led Ohio State's defense with 10 tackles, including six solo stops. He added two sacks, as did Donte Whitner.
Offensively, the Buckeyes were led by Smith, who completed 13 of 21 passes for 298 yards and three touchdowns. Ginn caught four passes for 138 yards, and Pittman led the rushing attack with 96 yards on 22 carries.
1994: Ohio State 24, Wisconsin 3: Seven days after a 49-point loss at Penn State, the Buckeyes bounced back with a rout of visiting Wisconsin.
The week between the games featured plenty of fan frustration and experts speculating that Ohio State's season – despite three games still remaining on the schedule – was essentially over. Many fans called radio shows in Columbus calling for the dismissal of OSU head coach John Cooper. There was even a story that was published in Ohio State's student newspaper, The Lantern, that claimed there was dissention on the team and a burgeoning feud between Cooper and offensive coordinator Joe Hollis over play selection.
Cooper called the report "completely off base" and having "absolutely no truth whatsoever." He also closed team practices for the rest of the season and spent part of his weekly radio call-in show doing damage control – and taking fewer calls.
When it was all said and done, though, it was the players who helped the Buckeyes (7-3, 4-2 Big Ten) make a 180-degree turn.
"I think it was a matter of pride for us," defensive end Matt Finkes said in the Nov. 12, 1994, edition of BSB. "I mean, I came to Ohio State because I have respect for the tradition and for what has gone on before me. I don't want to let any part of that down. But after last week's game, I came off the field and just couldn't believe what had happened. I think a lot of the other players thought the same way.
"So we gathered ourselves together during this week and decided that last week's game was not going to be the lasting impression that everyone in the country had of this football team. We have a lot of pride behind these uniforms and we wanted to go out and prove that today. I think we accomplished that goal pretty well."
The Buckeyes never trailed against the Badgers. Kicker Josh Jackson gave OSU a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on a 25-yard field goal. Wisconsin answered with a 46-yard field goal in the second quarter before Ohio State took command. The Buckeyes scored touchdowns in the second, third and fourth quarter to set the final score. The winning points came with 7:37 left before halftime on a 78-yard pitch-and-catch from OSU quarterback Bobby Hoying to Chris Sanders. The pair hooked up again early in the third quarter on a 15-yard TD.
Finally, tailback Eddie George scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to close out the victory.
George finished with 104 yards rushing on 22 carries. Hoying completed 14 of 28 passes for 207 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Sanders caught four passes for 107 yards.
Lorenzo Styles led OSU's defense with 10 tackles. Finkes, Luke Fickell and Greg Bellisari each recorded sacks, while Marlon Kerner nabbed two interceptions.
1988: Ohio State 34, Wisconsin 12: The Buckeye defense silenced the Badgers' option attack and helped OSU cruise to a victory at Ohio Stadium.
Pitt hurt Ohio State in the Panthers' 42-10 victory in the second week of the season, but the Buckeyes showed they had learned from that performance. Wisconsin was held to minus-24 yards rushing in the second half and to just 107 yards on the ground for the game.
"I think (defensive coaches) Bill Young, Gary Blackney, Ron Zook and Fred Pagac made some good adjustments at halftime, primarily trying to take their quarterback out of the option game in the second half," Cooper said in the Nov. 12, 1988, edition of BSB. "We settled down and played quite well on defense in the second half."
The Buckeyes (4-5, 2-4 Big Ten) harassed UW quarterbacks Lionell Crawford and Tony Lowery throughout the second half, sacking them a combined four times. Ohio State also nabbed an interception and recovered a fumble after halftime.
Wisconsin scored two touchdowns in the first half, but Ohio State still went into the break with a 24-12 lead. The Badgers missed their first extra point and then failed to make that point up with a failed two-point conversion attempt. Meanwhile, the OSU offense got a 30-yard field goal by Pat O'Morrow, a 21-yard touchdown pass from Grey Frey to tailback Marc Hicks, a 1-yard TD run by Frey and a 13-yard Frey touchdown pass to wide receiver Jeff Graham before halftime.
After the break, Ohio State scored 10 points on a 46-yard O'Morrow field goal in the third quarter and a Scotty Graham 9-yard TD run in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.
Frey completed 12 of 23 passes for 206 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Tailback Carlos Snow rushed for 66 yards on 15 carries. Jeff Graham led the receivers with six catches for 121 yards.
Defensively, Ohio State got 13 tackles by Orlondo Craig. Bo Pelini and Mike Sullivan each added nine stops. Jim Peel and Dwight Smith picked off Wisconsin passes.
1983: No. 14 Ohio State 56, Indiana 17: The Buckeyes were mathematically eliminated from the Big Ten race because of Illinois' win against Minnesota, but that didn't stop Ohio State from taking out some frustrations on the host Hoosiers. OSU scored 14 points in each quarter and got little resistance from Indiana. The Buckeyes (7-2, 5-2 Big Ten) led 28-3 at halftime and coasted to victory.
"When you're knocked out of the conference championship, it's a struggle back, and we're making it," OSU head coach Earle Bruce said in the Nov. 12, 1983, edition of BSB. "We're trying to make it a step at a time. This is one of those steps."
The final statistics told the story of Ohio State's dominance. Tailback Keith Byars rushed for 169 yards on 28 carries, the third consecutive game in which he had at least 160 yards. He scored four touchdowns for the first time in career. Overall, the Buckeyes rushed for 313 yards on 55 attempts. Quarterback Mike Tomczak completed 10 of 16 passes for 160 yards and one touchdown.
"Our offense was clicking today, as far as the pass and the run, and the offensive line was physical," Tomczak said. "We knew that Indiana wasn't a strong team on defense, but we just had to take advantage of that and better our team as far as the running game."
Meanwhile, the Indiana offense was stifled by the OSU defense. The Hoosiers were held to 46 rushing yards. Quarterbacks Steve Bradley and Cam Cameron threw for an impressive total of 31 completions for 337 yards but could only account for nine points until a late touchdown and two-point conversion allowed the Hoosiers to reach double figures in points.
OSU's Thad Jemison started the scoring in the first quarter on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Tomczak. Byars then added a 2-yard TD run that helped give Ohio State a 14-3 lead after the first quarter. That lead was extended in the second quarter on a 4-yard scoring run by John Wooldridge and a 24-yard TD run by Byars.
Byars kept it going in the third quarter with a 1-yard TD run. Tomczak added another 1-yard scoring scamper. Byars found the end zone for a fourth and final time in the final quarter on a 1-yard run. Sophomore wide receiver Doug Smith then ended OSU's offensive output with a 63-yard TD connection with backup quarterback Jim Karsatos.
Jemison caught five passes for 95 yards. Defensively, OSU was led by Shaun Gayle, who had 13 tackles, including 12 solo stops. Orlando Lowry, Spencer Nelms and Garcia Lane each intercepted IU passes.
1977: Ohio State 35, Illinois 0: The Buckeyes posted their fourth shutout of the season and ruined homecoming in Champaign with a dominant victory. Ohio State (8-1, 6-0 Big Ten) recorded 28 first downs and finished with 402 rushing yards. Five different rushers scored touchdowns. Linebacker Tom Cousineau posted 17 tackles to lead the OSU defense.
1966: Ohio State 7, Indiana 0: During a rainy, dreary day at Ohio Stadium, the offenses were dull in a win for the Buckeyes. The Hoosiers and Ohio State combined for just 475 yards of total offense, but it was still a memorable day for Buckeye head coach Woody Hayes. The win was his 100th at Ohio State.
The only touchdown of the game came on Ohio State's first drive of the second half. It was initially stopped at the IU 21-yard line. Gary Cairns kicked a 38-yard field goal, but the Hoosiers were called for defensive holding on the kick. That gave OSU (3-4, 2-3 Big Ten) a first down, and the drive continued. Quarterback Bill Long then found Robert Rein for a 8-yard touchdown pass for the game's lone TD.
1960: No. 5 Ohio State 36, Indiana 7: Back at Ohio Stadium after beating No. 10 Michigan State in East Lansing a week earlier, the Buckeyes beat back the visiting Hoosiers. Indiana was outclassed by the Buckeyes (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten), who outgained IU 394-60. Quarterback Tom Matte threw three touchdown passes and Robert Ferguson and Robert Klein each rushed for short-yardage scores.
The win did not count in the conference standings, however, as the Hoosiers were under probation for recruiting violations.
1955: No. 11 Ohio State 20, Indiana 13: The Hoosiers gave host Ohio State all it could handle before the Buckeyes escaped with a victory at Ohio Stadium. Hopalong Cassady led the OSU offense with 124 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Jerry Harkrader added another TD on a 3-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
Indiana outgained OSU 301-251 and limited the Buckeyes to two pass attempts, both of which fell incomplete. Ohio State (5-2, 4-1 Big Ten) did get some good news in Champaign, however, as Illinois upset Michigan and put the Buckeyes on top of the conference standings.
1949: No. 11 Ohio State 14, Pitt 10: Ohio State played a rare nonconference game in November and was lucky to leave the Steel City with a victory. The Panthers led 7-0 at halftime on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Carl DePasqua to Earl Sumpter in the second quarter, and extended it to 10-0 in the third quarter with a 38-yard field goal by Nick Bolkovac.
The Buckeyes (5-1-1, 3-1 Big Ten) rallied from there, scoring two touchdowns in the third quarter. Defensive tackle George Toneff recovered a Pitt fumble at the Panthers' 12-yard line, and that led to a 1-yard QB sneak for a touchdown by Padel Savic. Ohio State then got some more help from its defense to set up the winning touchdown drive. Billy Newell intercepted a pass at the OSU 30, and the Buckeyes made Pitt pay with a 22-yard TD scamper around left end by Ray Hamilton for a score.
1938: Purdue 12, Ohio State 0: The Boilermakers beat Ohio State for the first time after six losses, spoiling Dad's Day at Ohio Stadium. Both of Purdue's touchdowns came in the fourth quarter. Ohio State (3-2-1, 2-1-1 Big Ten) lost for the first time since dropping a 14-7 decision Oct. 8 vs. USC.
1932: Ohio State 20, Northwestern 6: The Wildcats led 6-0 early before Ohio State spoiled homecoming at Dyche Stadium. Marshall Oliphant was called into action for OSU when starting quarterback Carl Cramer suffered an ankle injury and fared well. The Buckeyes improved to 2-1-3 (1-1-2 Big Ten) and won for the first time since a season-opening 34-7 triumph against Ohio Wesleyan.
1927: Princeton 20, Ohio State 0: The Buckeyes were dominated in the rain at Palmer Stadium. The Tigers earned the win in large part because of their special teams. Princeton set up two of its three touchdowns on blocked punts deep in OSU territory. Columbus Dispatch writer W.F. McKinnon described the afternoon as "a sorry spectacle and one of the lowest points in the coaching career of John Wilce." Wilce's men fell to 3-3 (2-2 Big Ten) on the season.
1921: Ohio State 7, Chicago 0: Ohio State traveled to the Windy City and handed Amos Alonzo Stagg's Maroons their lone loss of the season. A standing-room-only crowd of 32,000 at Stagg Field watched the Buckeyes (4-1, 3-0 Big Ten) pull off the upset. Cyril "Truck" Myers rushed for a 12-yard touchdown to score the game's lone points in the second half.
1910: Case 14, Ohio State 10: The Buckeyes suffered their lone loss of the season in a road game. Case won for the fourth straight time in the budding rivalry, but Ohio State (4-1-2) protested the game because of allegations that Case deliberately selected game officials that favored the Cleveland school.
1904: Illinois 46, Ohio State 0: The Buckeyes fell to 5-3 with a loss to visiting Illinois. Ohio State would only win one more game in the last three weeks of the season.
1898: Western Reserve 49, Ohio State 0: Ohio State (2-3) was blanked for the third time in five games, falling in its lone road game of the season. In the Buckeyes' three losses, they had been outscored 69-0.
1896: Ohio Wesleyan 10, Ohio State 4: The Buckeyes started a span of four games in 10 days with a Thursday loss to the visiting Battling Bishops. Ohio State (2-4) would face Columbus Barricks on Nov. 7 (a 10-2 win), Ohio Medical on Nov. 11 (a 0-0 tie) and Wittenberg on Nov. 14 (a 24-6 win) – all at home.
1892: Ohio State 32, Denison 0: Ohio State prepped for a rematch against powerful Oberlin with a shutout of Denison. The Buckeyes (3-1) won their third straight game, all by shutout, after starting the season with a 40-0 loss to Oberlin.