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Ohio State dominates Illinois; clinches spot in Big Ten title game

Ohio State had as little trouble as expected dealing with Illinois on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

The eighth-ranked Buckeyes scored on their first six possessions while building a 38-0 halftime lead.

Favored by as many as 41 points during the week, they cruised to a 52-14 win, clinching a berth in the Big Ten Championship Game in the process.

In his last game at Ohio Stadium, quarterback J.T. Barrett completed 11 of 19 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 33 yards and a touchdown.

Illinois scored on a 54-yard fumble return by Ahmari Hayes in the third quarter and a 9-yard touchdown run by Cam Miller in the fourth quarter.

Backup quarterback Dwayne Haskins coughed up the ball on Hayes’ return, prompting Ohio State coach Urban Meyer to put his starters back in the game for one more drive. They had been pulled with more than five minutes left in the second quarter.

In their return, the Buckeyes’ No. 1 offense scored for the seventh time in as many drives.

Mike Weber ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns while J.K. Dobbins also scored on the ground for the Buckeyes.

Binjimin Victor and Marcus Baugh hauled in Barrett’s scoring tosses.

Victor also caught a touchdown pass from Haskins in the fourth quarter.

Meyer’s team improved to 9-2 and 7-1 in the Big Ten, clinching at least a share of the East Division.

They can claim it outright with a win at Michigan on Saturday.

Regardless of the outcome of that game, Ohio State will play Wisconsin for the Big Ten title Dec. 2 in Indianapolis.

The Badgers, who beat Michigan 24-10 on Saturday, entered the weekend ranked No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings while Ohio State was ninth.

Although this will only be their third conference title game appearance because of tiebreakers, the Buckeyes have won their division in each of Meyer’s six seasons.

Cin’quan Haney, a walk-on defensive back from Chaminade Julienne High School, was among 19 seniors honored before the game.

In the first half, Ohio State outgained the Fighting Illini 358-43 and had 17 first downs to their 1.

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