After Saturday’s game against Illinois, the mood at the Ohio State football postgame press conference was sullen.
The Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0) were coming off a 60-35 victory against Illinois (3-7, 0-6), but despite tying the school record for most consecutive victories with 22, the players seemed disappointed in the way they performed.
“It’s bittersweet,” redshirt-senior safety C.J. Barnett said after the game. “(I) feel good that we win 22 games I think, something like that, so we’re part of history now. At the same time, that play isn’t acceptable. Illinois was a great team, they had great athletes, but at the same time we expect more from ourselves. I think we gave up over 400 total yards so all we can do is go back to work.”
Despite leading by as many as 28 points twice during the first half, OSU saw its lead cut to as few as 12 points with 8:49 remaining in the game.
Senior running back Carlos Hyde closed the door on Illinois after that, with back-to-back touchdown runs of more than 50 yards with less than five minutes left in the game.
Hyde, who ended the day with a career-best 246 yards on the ground to go along with four rushing touchdowns and a receiving score, said he was disappointed in how the Buckeyes “hit a wall” during the game.
“A win is a win, but I’m not pleased with the way we performed today. We have to get better,” Hyde said. “Where we want to go this year we have to get better, like coach (Urban) Meyer told us before the game we have to play very, very good.”
Hyde added that OSU needs to be careful about coming out flat again because the opposing team might be ready to take advantage.
“We came out scoring points and all of a sudden we weren’t scoring, we were going three and out,” Hyde said. “So I feel like we definitely have to improve this week at practice, we have to get better. We can’t come out and play like that again because you never know, a team might come out and bring their A-game and beat us.”
Before the game, it was announced Hyde would not start at running back for OSU because of a “class issue.” Hyde missed two plays before seeing the field, with freshmen Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott lining up in his place.
After the game, Meyer said players are held to a certain academic standard but that Hyde is “fine.”
Coming into the game, OSU’s defense was allowing an average of 17 points per game, and had only allowed 30 points or more twice this season. The Illini’s 35 points were a season-high against the Buckeyes, who at times struggled to contain redshirt-senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.
“It’s kind of frustrating playing against him because he’s a good quarterback,” junior linebacker Ryan Shazier said.” He knows how to keep plays alive, scrambling around and trying to get the ball down field, so it’s kind of frustrating trying to tackle him in space.”
Scheelhaase had three touchdowns and 334 total yards against the Buckeyes, while also becoming the first player to record a run of more than 20 yards against the Buckeyes in 2013.
Meyer said he was impressed by Scheelhaase, but wasn’t surprised at how well the quarterback played.
“I’m a big fan of (Scheelhaase), the quarterback for Illinois. I got a chance to spend some time with him the last two years at Big Ten Media Days. I’ve watched him. I just love guys like that,” Meyer said. “I told him after the game that … He’s a great player. He’s a great player that’s been fighting, getting hit, makes plays, making something out of nothing. I thought he was hard to defend today. We kind of knew going in that he would be.”
Meyer added that despite Scheelhaase’s big day, OSU’s defense should have performed better.
“Not good enough. We’re not playing good enough on defense,” Meyer said. “But once again, I don’t want to take anything away from (Scheelhaase) … I’ve watched him for two years and I think he’s a heck of a player.”
The Buckeyes were playing without starting linebackers junior Curtis Grant and sophomore Joshua Perry, who were removed from the game because of injuries. During the game, freshman defensive lineman Joey Bosa was also sidelined with a neck sprain.
The No. 3 Buckeyes are set to take on Indiana (4-6, 2-4) Nov. 23 at 3:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium. The Hoosiers come in boasting the No. 16 offense in the country, averaging 496.8 yards per game.
Senior wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown said although the Buckeyes weren’t themselves against Illinois, they will be ready for Indiana next week.
“You always feel good with a win, but at the same time, we know how we can play,” Brown said. “And how we played today wasn’t us. But like coach Meyer said, we’re going to come out tomorrow and go hard this week and get a lot better and get better for Indiana.”