For the sixth time in school history, an Ohio State team has started a season 11-0.
However, it was anything but easy for the Buckeyes to get that eleventh win, needing overtime for a 21-14 triumph at Wisconsin.
OSU hung desperately to a 14-7 lead late into the fourth quarter, when Ryan Shazier forced a fumble on fourth and inches from the 2 that Christian Bryant recovered to end the threat.
The Badgers got the ball back with 1:33 to play at the OSU 41 yard line, and quarterback Curt Phillips took a sack on first down, before going 5-5 on the drive, good for 48 yards and the tying touchdown with just 8 seconds left.
Despite winning the coin toss in overtime, Wisconsin opted to play defense first. Ohio State picked up the 25 yards in just four plays, with Carlos Hyde hitting pay dirt from two yards out.
Wisconsin’s answer ended with Bryant coming through again, breaking up a pass on fourth and six that ended the game.
The Buckeye defense, in spite of allowing 360 yards (206 of it rushing), came through. Time of possession was skewed toward the Badgers by nearly 15 minutes, but OSU got big stops when it needed it.
Critical to that was third down. Wisconsin was just 5 of 19 in those situations, although the Badgers were three of five on fourth down.
John Simon was all over the place with four sacks, matching an OSU single game record. Jason Simmons (1991 vs. Washington State), Bobby Carpenter (2005 vs. Michigan State) and Vernon Gholston (2007 vs. Michigan) were the others. Simon added six tackles and a pass break up.
Shazier and Zach Boren paced the defense with 12 tackles a piece. C.J. Barnett chipped in with 11 from his safety position, and Bradley Roby had seven, with a critical pass break-up near the goal-line late.
Wisconsin’s Montee Ball also was strong; with a career high 39 carries, resulting in 191 yards and a touchdown. The score matched Miami University’s Travis Prentice for 78 in his career, the most in FBS history. His fumble on the goal-line (only the second of his career) late in the fourth was costly.
Phillips was brilliant on the final drive in regulation, but pedestrian the rest of the way. For the game, he completed 14 of 25 passes for 154 yards and a score.
Offensively, it was not one of the Buckeyes’ better games. Ohio State was held to 236 yards of total offense, with just 61 in the second half.
Braxton Miller wasn’t himself, carrying 23 times for only 48 yards. He looked confused and indecisive at times, but some of that was due to the play of Wisconsin’s defense. He did complete 10 of 18 passes for 97 yards.
Hyde carried 15 times for 87 yards and two scores.
Of those five previously mentioned OSU teams that started 11-0 (1975, 1979, 1995, 2002 and 2006), only the 2002 team finished that year without a loss. The next challenge will be to become the sixth team to go undefeated for the entire year (1916, 1944, 1954, 1968 and 2002).
It’s now officially Michigan week, as the Wolverines come to Ohio Stadium next Saturday. It should be the first time since 2007 that both teams will be ranked in the AP poll coming into the game.
We’ll have coverage beginning on Monday, and we’ll present a special one-hour edition of Buckeye Blitz next Friday at 7pm.