CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Ohio State was never really on upset alert Saturday in Memorial Stadium, but it might not have done enough to change the national perception that it isn't quite as good as BCS top dogs Alabama and Florida State.
After establishing a four-touchdown lead early in the second quarter against Illinois, the third-ranked Buckeyes sputtered for most of the last 2 1/2 periods but still pulled away late for a 60-35 Big Ten Conference win.
Running back Carlos Hyde rolled up 246 yards on 24 carries and scored five times for Ohio State (10-0, 6-0), including touchdown runs of 51 and 55 yards in the last four minutes that finally put the Fighting Illini (3-7, 0-6) away.
It was the 22nd straight win for second-year Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer, although he couldn't have been too pleased with his team giving up 420 yards and committing seven penalties.
"We have to make sure that our focus is on getting better each week instead of all of the national stuff," Meyer said. "I can't wait to get back to work tomorrow."
Coming in after an open date, Ohio State looked very crisp for the game's first 20 minutes. Quarterback Braxton Miller sped for a 70-yard score on the game's third play from scrimmage, starting an all-out assault on the overmatched Illinois defense.
Miller then added touchdown passes of 18 and 11 yards to Hyde and Corey Brown, respectively, while cornerback Bradley Roby returned a tipped-ball interception 63 yards for a score as the Buckeyes roared to a 28-0 advantage with 10:20 left in the first half.
But the Illini didn't capitulate meekly. After V'Angelo Bentley got them on the board with a 67-yard punt return with 7:29 left in the first half, quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase engineered four touchdown drives in less than two quarters.
Using short passes over the middle and a high-tempo no-huddle attack that sometimes squeezed off plays every 10 seconds against a defense that was without three starters by the first minute of the third quarter, Illinois drew within 47-35 on running back Josh Ferguson's 4-yard touchdown run with 8:49 left in the game.
"I was happy with the way the team responded," Scheelhaase said. "A lot of people would have folded up the tent against the (No. 3) team in the country after getting way behind like we did early, but we didn't quit."
Scheelhaase completed 33 of 50 passes for 288 yards and two scores, spraying his throws to nine receivers, while rushing 15 times for 46 yards and another touchdown.
"I'm a big fan of No. 2," Meyer said of Scheelhaase. "I thought he was hard to defend today. I told him after the game that I think he's a great player."
Wide receiver Steve Hull bagged eight catches for 105 yards, his third 100-yard game in the last five weeks, and a touchdown. Ferguson added 69 yards on 15 carries, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Illini from dropping their sixth straight game and falling out of bowl contention.
It was also their 20th straight loss against Big Ten opponents since winning at Indiana in October 2011.
"We wanted to be 1-0 at the end of the week," Scheelhaase said, "but all we can do is set our sights on Purdue next week."
Miller rushed for 184 yards on 16 attempts and also threw for 150 yards, although he connected on just 13-of-29 passes and missed a spate of open receivers. Linebacker Ryan Shazier bagged 16 tackles, including a sack of backup quarterback Reilly O'Toole for a safety with 4:59 left in the third quarter.
"It was a little frustrating," Shazier said, "but we were able to come up with some big plays."
NOTES: Bentley's 67-yard punt return TD in the second quarter was the first for Illinois in 10 years. He's the first Illini to return a kickoff and punt for a TD in the same year. ... When RB Carlos Hyde was tackled for a 2-yard loss with 1:50 left in the first half by LB Jonathan Brown, it marked the first time this season Hyde had a negative-yardage play. ... Ohio State DE Joey Bosa (neck sprain) left in the third quarter and didn't return. Bosa notched 2 1/2 sacks in the first half.