Ohio State went into Champaign and almost left toasting the home team. A game that was supposed to be a cakewalk, leaves many reflecting on what will happen next. Here are five things we learned:
5. Conference games are a different animal-
During non conference games and bowl games, the Ohio State offense seems to shine. You bring an opponent that knows you well in conference and things always seem to change what kind of success you see the offense have.
Just like a bottom feeder of the SEC can raise up and take on the top dogs in conference from time to time, so can a Big Ten team. When a team doesn't have to cram preparation and film study in, it allows for more time to game plan. From there, it is about who executes better, and who has the better athletes.
Ohio State struggled more with Illinois than many thought, but this is why running the conference gauntlet is so hard. Luckily, this did not turn into a Purdue from last year, because it very easily good have.
4. Having two weeks to prepare helped Illinois-
The national voices are already looking at this game and wondering about Ohio State's offense now. This is a bit curious because the offense put up 73 points last week, and was able to more than move the ball against a MUCH better Miami defense.
The reality is that Illinois did have two weeks to prepare. Despite what anyone says, having that extra week helps. Being able to pour over the film and run countless sets and looks from the scout teams has a great impact.
With a normal week bye, this game does not turn out as close. With the bye, Illinois made a game of it, and nearly put a scare into Ohio State fans a few weeks before Halloween.
3. Without Pryor, Ohio State's offense does not have an identity-
It is becoming increasingly evident that the coaches have gone all in with Terrelle Pryor. They have given him the keys to the offense this year, and who can blame them?
The dangerous part of this realization is that if Pryor goes down, the offense really doesn't have anything to hang its hat on. There is no Beanie Wells to hand the ball off to, and no real option to getting the ball on the outside either.
With Pryor, Ohio State is national title good, without him, things could get a bit scary. Let's hope the quad injury is not severe.
2. Illinois is better than anyone thought-
Going into the season, everyone seemed to agree that his year's version of the Illini would compete for something. That something however, was to get out of the cellar of the Big Ten.
While that may still end up being the case, it is clear that Illinois still has some talent on this team. Mikel Leshoure is a very good back, while Nathan Scheelhaase is talented enough at quarterback to make more than enough plays.
I would be very surprised if Illinois does not surprise some people this year, and even pull off a big upset somewhere down the road.
1. One game does not a perception make
The pollsters always put too much stock in how a team performs on a given week. Do not be surprised if Ohio State loses a little respect in the polls this week because of the pedestrian performance.
The reality is that things have to be kept in perspective. Ohio State has beaten a very good Miami team, and rolled over pasties by putting up Star Wars type of numbers. Just like you can't have a knee jerk reaction because of one overblown score, you should not change your views because of one lackluster game.
The reality is that this game was a perfect storm of sorts. Ohio State was going on the road for the first time this year against a team that had two weeks to prepare. A lot of the game plan also had to be hamstrung by the fact that the all universe Pryor was less than healthy after going down with a quad injury,
On top of it all, Illinois is very familiar with Ohio State in what they consider to be a rivalry game. Let's all slow down a little bit, because unless this injury to Pryor ends up being something more than it appears, I have a feeling Ohio State is going to be just fine in the end.
Okay, so things don't look as shiny and glossy as they did last week. The good news is that we are talking about a win and not throwing out reasons why Ohio State is lamenting on their first loss.
If anything, this week's practice will be even more focused as Indiana comes calling next week.