Here are our picks for the Ohio State players deserving recognition after the win vs. Illinois. Give us your vote on the Ask The Insiders message board.
Ben Axelrod: Early on, I leaned toward giving away my Buckeye Leaf to freshman defensive end Joey Bosa for what looked like a potential record-setting performance, but his second half injury and the 28 points given up by the Ohio State defense made that tougher to justify. Instead, I’ll go back to ole reliable and nominate Carlos Hyde. The senior running back again put the Buckeyes on his back, rushing for 246 yards and adding five total touchdowns. Hyde’s outing made a too close for comfort win a little more impressive, which could prove to go a long way when it comes to OSU’s postseason resume.
Pat Brennan: Ohio State’s defense suffocated Illinois early in the 60-35 win, and it was in part because of freshman Joey Bosa’s dominant play. The defensive lineman was in on three sacks in the first half alone and appeared primed to threaten the school single-game record of four sacks (achieved four times) before temporarily leaving the game because of injury. Bosa finished the game with four tackles, was dominant in disrupting Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, and helped the Buckeyes build up a sizeable cushion that they would later need as the Fighting Illini battled back and made it a tight game in the second half.
Ryan Ginn: My Buckeye Leaf for the Illinois game goes not to Carlos Hyde but to the man most responsible for opening the holes he exploited – Jack Mewhort. The senior left tackle and chief Illibuck celebrator played the game with a hyperextended knee and showed his value most when he wasn’t on the field. As the Buckeyes began to romp, OSU head coach Urban Meyer pulled him as a precaution, and the Ohio State offense just wasn’t the same. His return to the lineup helped spark Hyde's performance in the final minutes to bring about a more respectable scoreline.
Marcus Hartman: Carlos Hyde did his best Eddie George impression, ripping through gaps in an Illinois defense for a big yardage day and five total touchdowns. Hyde fell short of joining George in the 300-yard club vs. the Illini, but the senior's 246 yards set a career high and are tied for the third most in school history (Archie Griffin also ran for 246 yards against Iowa in 1973). On a day when the wind was wreaking havoc with Braxton Miller's passes, Hyde's powerful running and breakaway speed were the keys in Ohio State improving to 10-0.
Jeff Svoboda: Maybe this is for the sake of being different, but how about Ryan Shazier's 16-tackle day that included 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks? The one sack changed the game, as his blitz off the right side that brought down Reilly O'Toole in the end zone provided the safety that changed the game, turning momentum from Illinois' possession to Ohio State's. With every other experienced player at his position not able to play, Shazier stepped up and made enough plays to keep the Illini at bay.