COLUMBUS - Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr., Antonio Pittman and Santonio Holmes provided most of the flash for Ohio State in yesterday's 40-2 win over Illinois, but the foursome shunned the post-game glory in order to heap praise on the laborers up front.
"Within the course of a game, sometimes people take it for granted what the offensive line has to do up front," Smith said. "It's always good to see guys up there fighting, and they did a great job today, because being down in the trenches is where the game is won."
Smith benefited from the protection, completing 13 of 21 passes for a personal-best 298 yards, without an interception or a sack. He hit his last 10 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns.
"Not a lot of people want to go down there and bang heads every play," Smith said of his line, "but that's what they do. That's their art, their trade, and without them I say it all the time, there would be no Santonio Holmes, no Ted Ginn Jr., and no Troy Smith."
The Buckeyes totaled 526 yards and scored 40 or more points for the third straight game. Holmes, who had two touchdown catches, said he keeps in touch with the blue-collar guys.
"After every series, when we come back to the sideline I walk up to those guys and tell them what a great job they're doing," Holmes said. "When somebody makes a big play or scores a touchdown, I make sure I tell those guys to go thank the offensive line. I think the offensive line is doing a real good job."
Ohio State scored on five of six trips into the red zone and converted 10-of-15 third-down situations. Tailback Antonio Pittman rushed for 96 yards and a pair of scores.
"I always give credit to those guys first," Pittman said. "I had room to run today, so they were doing their job."
BIG D: Ohio State swarmed all over Illinois and its no-huddle hurry-up offense, limiting the Illini to just 160 yards of total offense.
The Buckeyes sacked Illinois quarterback Tim Brasic five times, and shut out the Illini, with the only points coming on a return of a botched extra point.
"We're not the first to have trouble against Ohio State's defense," Illinois coach Ron Zook said. "They have a lot of seniors and are very athletic in the secondary."
It was the fifth time this season the Buckeye defense held its opponent to 200 yards or less.
"I don't think it took us too long to get a handle on them," Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "We kept pressure on the quarterback, and it made things a lot easier on the back side of the defense with the pressure we were getting up front."
HUSTON UPDATE: Ohio State senior kicker Josh Huston from Findlay hit two field goals yesterday and for the second straight game, put each of his kickoff opportunities (eight) either deep into the end zone or through the end zone for touchbacks.
In his last two games, Huston has recorded touchbacks in his last 16 kickoffs.
50th ANNIVERSARY: Ohio State honored 1955 Heisman Trophy winner Howard Hopalong Cassidy at halftime of yesterday's game to mark the 50th anniversary of his award.