Ohio State Upsets Wisconsin

Published: .
Updated: .

Braxton Miller rolled right, skirting dangerously close to the line of scrimmage.

He could run, as he had done so effectively all night, and possibly get into field-goal range. But he looked downfield, and he saw fellow freshman Devin Smith impossibly alone in the end zone.

And thus, the first signature play of Miller’s young career and of the Buckeyes’ season was born.

Smith caught the 40-yard pass for the winning touchdown in Ohio State’s 33-29 victory over No. 15 Wisconsin at Ohio Stadium last night.

The victory was essential for the Buckeyes’ hopes of reaching the Big Ten title game. That is now a distinct possibility despite an 0-2 start in conference play. If Penn State loses to Nebraska or Wisconsin and Ohio State wins out, the Buckeyes (5-3, 2-2) will play for the league title in December.

The biggest hurdle always figured to be Wisconsin (7-2, 3-2), which ended Ohio State’s undefeated season last year and looked to be the clear class of this year’s Big Ten until it lost to Michigan State on a Hail Mary last week.

The Buckeyes seemed to have the game in hand when Miller ran 44 yards for a touchdown to put Ohio State ahead 26-14 with 4:39 left.

But then an Ohio State defense that had been so stout against the potent Badgers collapsed. Wisconsin scored touchdowns on consecutive four-play drives of 66 and 68 yards to take a 29-26 lead.

On the latter score, Jared Abbrederis somehow got wide open behind the Buckeyes defense for a 49-yard touchdown with 1:18 left.

A crowd that had been raucous all night went stone quiet. The Buckeyes have hardly been a quick-strike offense this season, and now that was required.

Ohio State got a lift when Jordan Hall returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards to the Buckeyes’ 48.

Daniel Herron got a first down at the Wisconsin 40 with 30 seconds left. Then came Miller’s fateful throw.

The Buckeyes had to survive some anxious moments when the play was reviewed to make sure Miller hadn’t crossed the line of scrimmage before letting go of the ball.

For Wisconsin, it had to be excruciating. Its loss to Michigan State came after a replay challenge went against the Badgers. They were dealt the same fate last night.

Wisconsin had one last chance for a miracle. Actually, the Badgers got two when the Buckeyes were penalized on the final play of regulation. But Wilson wasn’t able to unleash a Hail Mary because linebacker Andrew Sweat hit his arm as he threw.

As the ball fluttered to the ground, the Buckeyes erupted in celebration and fans stormed the field.

The second-half dramatics followed a first half spent in a defensive struggle that ended with Wisconsin leading 7-3.

But the offensive fireworks started immediately. On the first snap of the second half, Herron took a handoff, burst through a huge hole and wasn’t tackled until he’d gained 57 yards to the Wisconsin 18. The Buckeyes then faced a fourth-and-goal from the 1.

Ohio State called for a bootleg by Miller. Miller sold the fake, only to see defensive end Brendan Kelly right in front of him. But Miller juked Kelly and jogged into the end zone to give Ohio State its first lead, 10-7.

A pair of punt-team miscues then set up touchdowns for each team.

After a three-and-out by the Buckeyes defense, Ryan Shazier rushed around the right edge and blocked Brad Nortman’s punt. Curtis Grant recovered at the 1.

On third-and-2, Jordan Hall followed the block of fullback Zach Boren and dived into the end zone for a 17-7 lead.

But the momentum would turn suddenly. Ohio State forced a punt on Wisconsin’s ensuing possession, but Hall muffed the kick and the Badgers recovered at the Buckeyes’ 27. Six plays later, Montee Ball ran in from the 1 to make it 17-14.

Ohio State made it 20-14 on a 21-yard field goal by Basil with 10:39 left. Wisconsin then drove to the Buckeyes’ 38 and faced a fourth-and-2. Ball went around the left side, but Sweat rode him down a yard short of the first down.

The Buckeyes took over, and Miller extended his arm on a third-down run for a first down. Three plays later, he took off and went untouched 44 yards for a touchdown and a 26-14 lead.

The drama had just begun.