COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Finally, Urban Meyer once again had the opportunity every coach wants.
The outcome was well in hand thanks to another prolific offensive performance and continued improvements from the defense, and the Ohio State coach could at last pull his veterans and get a look at their backups -- and his talented freshmen.
Meyer obviously would have wanted a few more chances this season to get meaningful reps for his first signing class with the Buckeyes and put some teaching points on film, but it was obviously better late than never as he trotted out a bunch of new faces on the offensive line, a young tailback and a handful of defenders needing some work in a 52-22 destruction of Illinois.
"I was disappointed we didn't get one or two of those earlier in the year," Meyer said. " ... But I'm glad to see it, because there's no way you can simulate that in practice.
"It's priceless to be able to do that."
The Buckeyes have tried duplicate the experience with some spirited scrimmages for the younger players on Sundays as the season has progressed, though Meyer didn't put them through one after the win over the Illini heading into a bye week. Perhaps that was thanks in part to the opportunity the rout provided the night before, which revealed or confirmed some of the promise the freshman class has moving forward, starting with these three Buckeyes.
Position: Running back
Stats sheet: 13 carries for 73 yards and a touchdown