for this game

Williams does it all as Illinois upsets Ohio State

Nov 11, 2007 - 2:44 AM COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- Juice Williams put Illinois in front with his arm and put away top-ranked Ohio State with his legs.

Williams threw four touchdown passes and ran for three crucial first downs in the closing minutes Saturday to lead Illinois to a stunning 28-21 victory over the Buckeyes in a Big Ten Conference shocker.

Ohio State (10-1, 6-1 Big Ten) may have been looking ahead to next week, when it visits arch-rival Michigan. The Buckeyes will still be playing for a Big Ten title and BCS bowl berth, but a spot in a second straight national championship game is now likely out of reach.

Last weekend, the Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) downed visiting Wisconsin, 38-17, for their Big Ten-record 20th straight conference win.

For Illinois (8-3, 5-2), which has won three straight games after losing consecutive contests to Iowa and Michigan, it was its first victory over a No. 1-ranked team since 1956.

"I am so proud of our team and how our coaching staff prepared us for this game," Illinois coach Ron Zook said. "It is definitely a different story from two years ago when we played here. It is evident we have made some progress, and the team did what we had to do to come away with a win."

The teams traded a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter, with Williams throwing for a pair of scores. He connected with Brian Gamble from eight yards out in the second quarter to give the Illini a 21-14 lead at the half.

Williams threw his fourth TD pass of the game, a 31-yard scoring strike to Marques Wilkins, with 4:08 left in the third to make it 28-14.

With the Illini nursing a 28-21 lead, Williams took the game over - but this time, he did it on the ground. Illinois kept the ball for the final 8:08 thanks to Williams, who ran for four key first downs.

The drive almost ended before it really began. With Illinois facing a 4th-and-inches from its 32 with 6:53 remaining, the Illini were prepared to punt.

But the Buckeyes called a timeout. As it turned out, Ohio State gave Williams time to change Zook's mind.

"It was one of those things we just had to do," Zook said. "When Ohio State called the timeout, Juice told me he would get it and I said that he better. We have a lot of trust and confidence in our guys and felt confident Juice would get it for us."

Williams did, picking up two yards on a sneak. But it was just the first in a number of key plays Williams made on the drive.

He converted a 3rd-and-7 with 4:55 to play, ran for a first on 3rd-and-10 with 3:31 to play and put the finishing touches on the upset by running for a first down on 3rd-and-2 with 2:19 to go and with Ohio State out of timeouts.

"Well, I wish I wouldn't have called timeout," Ohio State Jim Tressel said. "When they had their punt team out there, we still had 12 or 13 guys out. It's hard to get people off the field, it's loud out there and I'd like to have that one back."

Williams completed 12-of-22 passes for 140 yards and added 70 yards rushing on 16 carries.

Todd Boeckman was 13-of-23 for 156 yards and was intercepted three times for Ohio State.

"We all know that we can't turn it over like that and come up on the right end of things against a good team," Tressel said.

"These kinds of losses are hard to take, and it's tough to reignite that enthusiasm again," Boeckman said. "It's even tougher being a leader on this team and knowing you could have played better and helped out the team. We have to get back out there and get ready for Michigan."

A rivalry game with a BCS berth on the line shouldn't be hard for the Buckeyes to get up for, but it will definitely be a different experience for them going into it off a loss.

Ohio State's school-record regular-season winning streak of 28 was ended by Illinois as well as its conference record of 20 consecutive Big Ten wins.

Aside from Boeckman's mistakes, the Ohio State defense also had a sub-par performance. The Buckeyes had allowed just five TD passes all season before Williams lit them up on Saturday.

Ohio State, which entered with the country's third-ranked rushing defense, was gashed by Illinois for 260 yards, the most the Buckeyes have allowed all season. It was the eighth time this season Illinois has rushed for over 200 yards.

"Today, the team played what we coached and that is a sign that they do listen," Zook said. "I am so proud of this team and of the senior leadership we have. That group of kids have gone through a lot and today, they played great."