Ohio State’s amazing turnaround season included one more thrilling battle Saturday night at Wisconsin.
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And now the stage is set for this team of destiny to try and make history as it hosts arch-rival Michigan next Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Wisconsin rallied from down 14-0 in the first half to force overtime with a touchdown with just eight seconds left in regulation. But the Buckeyes would not be denied. Carlos Hyde scored on a 2-yard touchdown run and Christian Bryant broke up a fourth-down pass as sixth-ranked Ohio State was able to move to 11-0 with a dramatic 21-14 win before 80,112 Saturday night at Camp Randall Stadium.
“I’m honored to be the coach of an 11-0 Ohio State team, especially one that’s very deserving,” said OSU coach Urban Meyer. “We have a saying and I just shared it with them that a team that refuses to be beat won’t be beat.”
Even though OSU is ineligible for postseason play, this win gives Ohio State the Buckeyes the outright Big Ten Leaders Division championship. It also gives them the chance to be just the sixth unbeaten and untied team in the 123-year history of Ohio State football when it welcomes in Michigan (8-3, 7-1) next Saturday.
“That would be amazing for us if we could finish off an undefeated season,” said linebacker Ryan Shazier, who had 12 tackles and forced a critical fumble as well. “We’ve been doing this for our seniors the whole season. I just want to send my big brothers out with a prize. Not everybody can say they went undefeated.
“And knowing that we got robbed not being able to go to a bowl game, it would mean a lot.”
The Buckeyes benefitted from a 68-yard punt return touchdown by Corey “Philly” Brown late in the first quarter.
OSU quarterback Braxton Miller was 10 of 18 passing for 97 yards and also had 23 carries for 48 yards.
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“I couldn’t get out on the edge,” Miller said of his struggles. “Every time I would try and cut back they would have someone shooting the gaps. They had a good game plan. It was (pretty) frustrating.”
OSU tailback Carlos Hyde had 87 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.
“We just couldn’t catch that rhythm,” Hyde said. “We would make a play and then, boom, something would happen. Their defense did a good job of keying in on Braxton.”
The Buckeyes were outgained 360-236 in total offense and mustered just 61 yards total offense and four first downs in the second half, opening the door for Wisconsin to tie it.
“(Wisconsin) is number one in the Big Ten against the rush and we couldn’t get that going,” Meyer said. “We’re certainly not a finished product on offense and it showed. I think we need to give (Hyde) the ball a little bit more.”
Brown also had four catches for 48 yards for OSU, while Devin Smith had four catches for 41 yards.
Defensive end John Simon tied an OSU single-game record with four sacks.
“Our secondary gave us great coverage,” Simon said. “Their quarterback was holding the ball for an awfully long time. One time, he just kind of ran into me. Another time we ran a great stunt with Nathan Williams and he forced him into me. It was a total team effort.
Carlos Hyde scored 2 TDs in the win
“We knew the tougher team always wins and fortunately for us that was us today.”
It was the latest stellar effort for an OSU defense that has improved since being gashed in a 52-49 win at Indiana. In four games since then, the defense has allowed just seven touchdowns.
“Our defense is really playing well,” Meyer said. “You think about how far they’ve come and that’s a credit to a bunch of good people working as a coaching staff on a defense and a bunch of players listening. Great effort.”
Wisconsin running back Montee Ball had one touchdown to tie the all-time NCAA Division I-A touchdown mark of 78. He ended up with 191 yards on 39 carries in his final appearance at Camp Randall Stadium.
In an amazing turn of events, he was hit by OSU’s Ryan Shazier and fumbled on a fourth-quarter leap that would have tied the game and set the new touchdown record. But the Badgers still managed to tie the game, going 41 yards in nine plays leading up to Curt Phillips’ 5-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Pedersen with eight seconds left.
The Badgers rushed for 206 yards on 56 attempts. Phillips, a senior making his second career start, completed 14 of 25 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown.
It was another painful loss for Wisconsin (7-3, 4-3), which had previously lost three games each by three points including an overtime loss to Michigan State on Oct. 27 (16-13). The Badgers at least have the consolation of getting to play in the Big Ten championship game against either Nebraska or Michigan, however.
"Everybody involved had a lot invested in that week," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. "A lot going into that game. Our guys battled back and then down to the last part of regulation, did a lot of really good things.
Philly Brown breaks free on 68-yard punt return TD
"Sorry for our seniors. Guys did a lot for us the last four, five years. Not to send them out win a win, is very difficult to swallow."
As It Happened
The teams traded punts early in a battle of field position. The Buckeyes forced a Wisconsin punt late in the first quarter after John Simon batted down a Phillips pass on third down. Punter Drew Meyer hit it down the middle of the field, where OSU’s Brown was waiting. He fielded it at the OSU 32, broke through the initial wave, made a tackler miss and was gone on the 68-yard return that put the Buckeyes up 7-0 with 1:58 left in the first quarter.
“The hold-up team did a really good job of holding up their punt team,” Brown said. “We knew we would be able to break one on these guys this week because of the scheme Coach (Zach) Smith put together. Those guys went out there and gave 110 percent. Anybody could have run through that hole.
“It was good blocking. They opened a crease big enough for me to run through. I only had to make one guy miss. It’s a feeling I can’t explain.”
Simon sacked Phillips for a loss on the ensuing possession and the Badgers had to punt it away again. OSU took over on its own 31-yard line and moved 69 yards in eight plays to a 14-0 lead. Miller and Brown hooked up for gains of 7 and 15 yards. Those two connected again for a 10-yard gain and a first down at the 32.
On first down there, Miller scrambled for 3 yards. A UW defender hit him while he was down and was penalized for a late hit. The ball moved down to the UW 15-yard line. On first down there, Hyde took the give and burst through a big hole right up the middle and waltzed into the end zone for the 15-yard touchdown that made it 14-0 with 11:27 left in the first half.
The Badgers desperately needed a score to avoid getting blown out and they got it, moving 82 yards in eight plays. Ball got it going with gains of 13 and 15 yards. Phillips found tight end Jacob Pedersen down the right sideline for a 29-yard gain and a first down at the 11. Two plays later – with the crowd calling for a Ball touchdown to tie the record – he took the give up the middle from the 7. He dove from the 2 and took OSU’s Christian Bryant with him into the end zone for the historic touchdown that cut the OSU lead to 14-7 with 7:30 left in the first half.
Neither team threatened in the remainder of the half.
Late in the third quarter, Wisconsin drove down to the OSU 23 as the Badgers converted a fourth down along the way. But on fourth-and-8 at the 23, Bielema elected for a field goal. But Kyle French’s 40-yard field goal sailed wide left with 14:56 left in the game.
OSU’s ensuing possession was doomed by a holding penalty on guard Marcus Hall and a personal foul on Michael Thomas. OSU punted it away with 12:21 left. The Badgers converted a third down as Phillips threw to Pedersen for a 12-yard gain. But the the drive stalled at the OSU 45 and the Badgers punted it away with 9:13 left.
Once again the Buckeyes could not mount an offensive threat. A sack of Miller by UW’s Tyler Dippel forced an OSU punt. Ben Buchanan hit a short wobbler that only went 29 yards. The Badgers were in business at the OSU 46 with 7:00 left in the game.
On first down, Ball took a give and went left for 25 yards down to the 21. Phillips had what looked like a sure touchdown pass to Derek Watt batted away by OSU’s Bradley Roby. Ball then rumbled for 6 yards down to the 12. On fourth-and-1 there, Phillips ran a quarterback sneak for the first down at the 11.
Ball got 4 yards down to the 7 on first down.He then had a cutback for a 4-yard gain down to the 3. On third-and-2 at the 3, Ball plowed straight ahead and appeared to get down inside the 1-yard line and appeared to have a first down. But the officials spotted the ball just outside the 1. On fourth-and-inches there, Ball tried to leap over the pile for the touchdown. But OSU linebacker Ryan Shazier hit him and forced a fumble, which teammate Christian Bryant recovered with 2:40 left.
"We talk about running the ball in the end zone," Bielema said. "That's a teaching moment for everybody. I just had this flash in my mind when we lined up to run that play, I'm like 'don't jump, don't jump.'
"Because I knew he would do anything he could to get in the end zone. I can't discredit him for the effort."
Shazier added, “The thing going through my mind was somebody needed to make a play. I wasn’t waiting on anybody to make a play. I watched plenty of film on him. I saw once he got around the goal line he liked to jump. When he jumped, I jumped and made the play.”
OSU was able to take a minute off the clock before punting it back to Wisconsin with 1:33 left. On first down at the OSU 41, Phillips was sacked by John Simon for a 12-yard loss. But Phillips came back and hit three straight passes for a first down at the 20. He and Jared Abbrederis hooked up again for 11 yards and a first down at the OSU 5.
After a first-down spike to stop the clock with 12 seconds left, Phillips stood in and hit a sliding Petersen for the 5-yard touchdown. He made the grab in front of OSU linebacker Zach Boren, tying the game at 14-14 with eight seconds left.
Meyer said the Buckeyes were down but not down and out after letting Wisconsin tie it.
“I can’t tell you our emotion was high, but we rallied them back,” Meyer said. “That’s leadership on our team. Our coaches did a good job of getting them going because we were sucking our thumbs after they scored. It was over.”
The script in overtime was almost identical to the way Ohio State defeated Purdue in overtime on Oct. 20 (29-22). OSU had the ball first in that game, scored quickly and then got a defensive stand to end it.
“The highs and lows of this game were crazy,” Shazier said. “But we had full confidence in our defense. We knew once our offense could get in the red zone they were going to score.”
Wisconsin won the toss and went on defense first. On first down, Hyde got around the corner and got 11 yards and a first down.
“We ran a play we hadn’t run all day with Carlos to the edge,” Meyer said. “Their focus was all over Braxton and rightfully so.”
Miller kept it for gains of 4 and 8 yards, setting up Hyde’s 2-yard touchdown straight up the middle as the Buckeyes went up 21-14.
“We hit them with the up tempo Jet play,” Hyde said. “They weren’t even in position so it was pretty easy. I just walked in.
“But I really wasn’t even satisfied with that touchdown. We shouldn’t have even been in that position.”
“I liked the way our offense just went in and attacked it,” Meyer said. “Carlos had that big run and Braxton Miller ran like Braxton Miller. We got him in space and then we pounded it in there.”
The Badgers took their possession from the 25. Ball got 4 yards on first down before Phillips threw incomplete under pressure from OSU’s Shazier. On third down, the Badgers gave it to Ball on a draw but he was stopped for a 2-yard loss by Sabino. On fourth down, Phillips tried to go to Pedersen again, but OSU’s Christian Bryant broke it up to end the game.
"They dove in front and made a really big play," said Bielema.
* Linebacker Etienne Sabino returned to action for the first time since fracturing a bone in his leg against Nebraska on Oct. 6.He had six tackles and a tackle-for-loss in the win.
* Shazier and Boren led OSU with 12 tackles each.
* Brown’s punt return touchdown was his second of the season. He also had a 76-yard touchdown return against Nebraska.
* OSU lost cornerback Travis Howard and safety C.J. Barnett to injuries in the first half. Doran Grant filled in for Howard, while Corey “Pittsburgh” Brown replaced Barnett. Both were able to return in the second half.
Shazier left the game briefly in the fourth quarter after he collided helmet-to-helmet with a UW player while making a tackle.
“I didn’t have a concussion,” Shazier said. “I had a slight neck sprain. They just wanted to make sure everything was OK.”
* Ohio State improved to 7-2 all-time in overtime games. Meyer is 6-0 in overtime games as a head coach.
* Simon tied the school single-game sack record set previously by Jason Simmons, Bobby Carpenter and Vernon Gholston.
* Wisconsin played the game without starting linebacker Chris Borland, an Ohio native, due to a hamstring injury. He is UW’s second-leading tackler this season.
* Ohio State now leads the all-time series, which dates to 1913, at 55-18-5. That includes a 26-10-2 edge in Madison. The Buckeyes have won five of the last six meetings. OSU has won 10 of the last 15 meetings overall (since 1994). OSU has won in two of its last three visits to Madison.
* Ohio State claimed the Leaders Division title outright with a win. Wisconsin has already secured the Leaders Division spot in the Big Ten title game and will be going for its third straight conference championship.
* The Buckeyes came into the weekend as one of four unbeaten teams nationally. Ohio State is joined by Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame (all were 10-0 going into play today).
* Ohio State reached 11-0 to start the season for the sixth time in school history.
The Buckeyes are now 6-2 in games to get to 11-0. The wins were in 1975 over Michigan (21-14), 1979 over Michigan (18-15), 1995 over Indiana (42-3), 2002 over Purdue (10-6) and 2006 over Northwestern (54-10). The losses were to Michigan in 1996 (13-9) and to Illinois in 2007 (28-21).
This is the third team Meyer has led to an 11-0 start in his 11th year as a head coach. His 2004 Utah team finished 12-0, while his 2009 Florida team started 12-0 before finishing 13-1. Meyer has led six of his 11 teams to 10 wins or more.
Only two first-year OSU coaches have started 11-0. Carroll Widdoes was 9-0 in 1944 and eventually won his first 12 games before a loss. Earle Bruce posted an 11-0 record to open the 1979 before a Rose Bowl loss to USC.
* Meyer’s teams are 72-14 when ranked.
* Meyer’s teams are 33-2 coming off an open week. OSU is 14-9 after open weeks.
* The Badgers and Buckeyes have each won 17 Big Ten games since the start of the 2010 season, the most of any league school.
* Wisconsin had won 10 straight home games in the month of November, dating back to 2005. UW is now 44-5 at home under Bielema with two of those losses to Ohio State. Bielema is now 1-5 against Ohio State.
* The Buckeyes wrap the season next Saturday against Michigan (8-3, 6-1). The Wolverines annihilated Iowa 42-17 on Saturday. Next Saturday’s game will kick at noon and will be televised by ABC.
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