Now Urban Meyer has some time to prepare an unbeaten yet flawed Ohio State team for what he calls “the two big ones left.”
Carlos Hyde rushed for 137 yards and three touchdowns, and Braxton Miller burnished his Heisman credentials by passing for two scores and running for another in the Buckeyes’ 52-22 victory over Illinois on Saturday.
The Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) maintained their upper hand in the Leaders Division heading into a bye week. They have games remaining at Wisconsin on Nov. 17 and against rival Michigan at home a week later.
There’s still plenty of work to do.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a couple of top-5 teams; this probably has more holes than those other ones,” said Meyer, in his first year at Ohio State after winning two national championships in six seasons at Florida. “However, there were also some great performances [today]. We are going to dwell on the weaknesses because those weaknesses get exposed when you play two good teams like we have to finish the season.”
The Buckeyes feel great about how far they’ve come from a disastrous 6-7 season a year ago. But they still know that the hardest part lies ahead.
“It’s a great feeling knowing you haven’t lost a game all season. A lot of teams can’t say that,” cornerback Bradley Roby said. “Just to be 10-0 is a huge accomplishment for us. We’re very close [to 12-0]. We just want to finish strong.”
Hyde scored on three short bursts while topping 100 yards for the sixth time this season. Miller carried 18 times for 73 yards and completed 12 of 20 passes for 226 yards. His TD passes covered 51 yards to Rod Smith and 37 to Corey Brown.
But Meyer isn’t happy with the passing game — which will be the focus of workouts starting Tuesday.
“We still have some weaknesses,” he said. “We worked so hard to develop a passing game, and I can’t say that we did it successfully, however. It’s still a work in progress.”
But the running game was vintage Ohio State. The Buckeyes averaged 6 yards per carry, totaling 330 yards on the ground.
“Once we got our rhythm there was going to be no stopping us,” Hyde said. “It’s not just me. It’s the offensive line. When those guys go, that means I’m going.”