OSU's Mike Nugent made three field goals but had his first miss of the season.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Ohio State placekicker Mike Nugent's streak of 23 consecutive field goals came to a halt yesterday when he missed on kicks of 37 and 41 yards, but that was overshadowed by the fact he made field goals of 33, 47 and 37 yards, and the Buckeyes defeated Illinois 23-16 in overtime.
“A lot of people are going to say it was a close game because I missed two field goals, but I can say, `Yeh, but we still made three,'” Nugent said. “I don't even care if I go 0-for-10 in one day as long as we win.”
After making first-quarter field goals of 33 and 47 yards to run his streak to 23 straight this season and 24 overall, going back to last season, Nugent missed a 33-yarder midway through the second quarter in a strong North wind.
“I hit the ball solid but I didn't play the wind right,” he said. “The other one I missed, I just got out there, got real lazy and just kind of swiped at the ball. Every kick I've done all year won't look anything like that one. I totally changed everything.”
Illinois' John Gockman kicked a 47-yard field goal into that same wind late in the third quarter to tie the score at 13.
Nugent said he was surprised Illinois even attempted the kick.
“I really want to give him all the credit for that,” Nugent said. “He did such a great job of bringing that team back and keeping them in it.”
CLARETT UPDATE: Ohio State freshman tailback Maurice Clarett was supposed to start but never got into the game, his shoulder stinger evidently still a reason for concern.
“I talked to him a little bit,” OSU coach Jim Tressel said. “I thought we might go with Lydell [Ross] and Maurice Hall early in the game and to see how we could fit him in later in the flow of the game. And I almost put him in at one point, but decided not to. It was just a game-time, moment by moment decision-making.”
Hall ran for 69 yards in 17 attempts while Ross gained 51 yards in 15 carries.
“Maurice Clarett not being there is definitely a factor,” Ohio State tight end Ben Hartsock said. “You can't just sit there and say he's not a great back, that he doesn't bring something to the table. But the reason we have been successful is we haven't allowed ourselves to give up and say we don't have Maurice so this offense is done.
“We haven't been great. This offense has not been great but we have still been able to come through in key situations. It's been terribly ugly. Sure we would like to have Maurice back there, but we don't so we have to make do.”
CLUTCH COMBO: The passing combination of quarterback Craig Krenzel to wide receiver Michael Jenkins remained undeniably extraordinary again.
Jenkins caught six passes for 147 yards and one touchdown, a 50-yarder that put Ohio State back into the lead at 13-10 in the third quarter just after Illinois had gone ahead 10-6 on a 19-yard TD pass.
“We needed a play once again,” Jenkins said. “I couldn't see the ball. It was dead center in the lights and I'm running down the field almost talking to the guy [defensive back], but talking to myself that I couldn't see the ball. And then it fell right into my hands and I just walked in with it.”
Krenzel completed 10 of 21 passes for 176 yards, but also ran for 49 yards, though taking four sacks that knocked 23 yards off his total.
“That was exciting no doubt about it,” he said. “We knew coming in, watching all the film, they're a different team than the one we saw in the past, and we knew coming into this game we were going to see the best they had.
“No doubt Michael is a great player. I love throwing to Michael, downfield to Michael. When he has one-on-one coverage, like today, I have all the confidence in the world that he's going to come down with the ball.”