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Saturday, November 15, 2008
Halftime update: Ohio State 23, Illinois 13

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Jim Tressel has to be pleased with what he has seen, for the most part.

Most of Tressel's teams at Ohio State have been defined by rushing the football, limiting turnovers and winning the special-teams battle. Ohio State is succeeding in all three areas today.

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor and running back Chris "Beanie" Wells are consistently finding running room against an Illini defense that has leveled some nice hits today and performed decently under the circumstances. Pryor is scary good, folks, and he showed his scrambling ability (35-yard run) and passing touch (20-yard scoring strike to Dane Sanzenbacher) on a masterfully executed 76-yard touchdown drive.

Last year, Illinois' Juice Williams stole the show in Columbus, but the junior quarterback has committed two turnovers, both of which led to Ohio State touchdowns. The Buckeyes are blitzing a ton, and though Illinois is moving the ball well, Williams has been forced into some tough spots.

Special teams has been arguably the biggest factor so far. Malcolm Jenkins' punt block for a safety changed the game, and Illinois had a pooch kick and a poor free kick that gave Ohio State great field position. Aside from freshman kicker Matt Eller (two field goals), Illinois has been terrible on special teams.

If Tressel has a reason to be worried, its his defense.

Illinois' no-huddle has proved very effective, and the Illini racked up 292 yards in the first half. Williams, Daniel Dufrene and Jason Ford all have found room to run, and Illinois has experimented a bit, putting Eddie McGee at quarterback for a play before bringing back Williams. Wideout Jeff Cumberland, a Columbus native, has made several nice plays.

But moving the ball between the 20s and settling for field goals won't get it done against Ohio State. Illinois needs to start finishing drives.