Cody Cousino/Photo editor
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Ohio State football needed a win, and an upset of No. 16 Illinois filled that need just fine.
Senior running back Daniel “Boom” Herron made his season debut and helped the Buckeyes end their two-game losing streak with a 17-7 win at the Fighting Illini’s (6-1, 2-1) Memorial Stadium Saturday. Herron rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown in the game. Though freshman quarterback Braxton Miller only attempted four passes in the game, one went for a touchdown to junior tight end Jake Stoneburner.
The Buckeyes (4-3, 1-2) now have two weeks to prepare for their crucial Leaders Division contest against Wisconsin (6-0, 2-0) at Ohio Stadium Oct. 29. The game, which occurs on OSU homecoming, gives the team a chance to even its conference record at 2-2.
The Buckeyes opened the scoring with a 43-yard field goal from sophomore Drew Basil on OSU’s opening drive.
The field goal was the second opening-drive score in as many weeks for the Buckeyes.
Offense was in short supply for both the Buckeyes and Illinois for the rest of the half as the two teams combined for 200 total yards of offense and no additional scores. OSU held a slight edge with 105 yards, all of which came on the ground.
After being suspended for the first six games of 2011 season for two separate NCAA violations, Herron had an immediate impact in the first half, rushing for 70 yards on 12 carries.
Herron’s biggest run of the game came on the Buckeyes’ first play of the second half.
Herron cut the outside and dashed 12 yards toward the corner of the end zone to score the first touchdown of the game and put OSU up, 10-0.
One play earlier, freshman cornerback Bradley Roby positioned the Buckeyes’ score when he intercepted a pass by Illinois sophomore quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase and returned it 36 yards to the Fighting Illini’s 12-yard line.
With Herron’s return, only senior receiver DeVier Posey remains suspended for the Buckeyes. Posey sold OSU football memorabilia in exchange for improper benefits in the form of tattoos and was also overpaid for work he did not do at a summer job.
Sophomore corner Dominic Clarke, who was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for shooting what one witness described as a “compressed-air” gun from the top of Marketplace, a diner on OSU’s campus, did not travel with the team to Champaign.
Illinois suffered another costly turnover early in the fourth quarter when OSU junior linebacker Storm Klein recovered a fumble on the Illini 22-yard line.
Three plays later, Miller then completed his first pass of the day to Stoneburner for a 17-yard touchdown to extend the Buckeyes’ advantage to 17-0.
Illinois was held scoreless for more than 53 minutes but finally broke through on an 80-yard scoring drive that Scheelhaase capped with a 3-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Evan Wilson.
The score cut Illinois’ deficit to 10 points, but the comeback fell short in the end.
The Illini drove for another late score, but Scheelhaase threw an incomplete pass on fourth down from OSU’s 17-yard line with 1:11 remaining in the contest. The Buckeyes took over and bled the clock out to clinch the victory.
OSU’s Oct. 29 game against the Wisconsin Badgers is set for an 8 p.m. kickoff at the ‘Shoe.