The Item: A signed poster from the night Braxton became X-Brax
The year was 2011. The date was Saturday, Oct. 29, also known as Halloween weekend. As always, the holiday was slated for Oct. 31, but Buckeye fans didn’t have to wait until the end of the month to get spooked. It seemed the team had been dressed as someone else all month long, going 1-2 in October and 4-3 on the season.
Hopes were not incredibly high among Buckeye Nation. The fallout from the NCAA investigation had left the team broken. The locker room was without a clear leader and Saturday game plans had to be drawn up without many of the star players from a year before.
Still, it was becoming increasingly evident Ohio State had a playmaker in freshman QB Braxton Miller.
His value to the team was most apparent just two weeks earlier when the young signal-caller marshaled the Buckeyes to a 27-6 lead over the Cornhuskers before being knocked out of the game with an injury. In his absence the OSU offense completely stalled, failed to score another point and ended up losing the game, 34-27.
Miller was able to bounce back the following week to help the Buckeyes beat Illinois, 17-7. However, the victory came largely on the back of Boom Herron, who rushed for 114 yards and one TD while playing in his first game of the season after serving a suspension. The game plan almost completely ignored Miller, as the coaches only dialed up four pass attempts for the QB on the day.
So, heading into a tilt with 15th-ranked Wisconsin (6-1) things looked problematic. It was unclear if Miller was 100% healthy, and even if he was, the chances of the Buckeyes mustering enough offense to compete with the Badgers (averaging 47 points/game) were questionable at best.
But, if fans from that night were able to jump in a time machine and travel to 2013, they would find gems like this. Hmmm, interesting. If the Buckeyes came up short that evening it would be strange to hock an autographed photo of a loss. That's because there would be no loss. Not if Miller had anything to say about it.
The Clips: A Bielema BackBreaker
Russell Wilson and Montee Ball kicked off the game’s scoring on their second possession with a 22-yard pass to the RB for a TD.
A stout Wisconsin D sacked the Buckeyes twice on their first two possessions and held them to a giant goose egg in the first quarter.
To start the second, OSU was once again forced to punt, but held the Badgers to a three-and-out on their ensuing possession.
A couple of nifty rushes by Miller and Herron moved the Bucks from the OSU 47 to the Wisconsin 22 and kicker Drew Basil nailed a 39-yarder to put the Buckeyes on the board, 7-3.
The two teams held each other largely in check for the remainder of the half, with each team punting once before heading into the locker room.
On the very first play of the third quarter, the Buckeyes finally freed up “Boom” to the tune of a 57-yard scamper. Two plays later Herron got loose again for an 18-yard gain, paving the way for the second most exciting 1-yard TD run of Miller’s career.
Another three-and-out by the Buckeye D forced the Badgers to punt, and then this happened:
The ball was placed at the Wisconsin 1-yard line and RB Jordan Hall was able to take care of the rest, plowing it in for the score and making it 17-7 Buckeyes.
The Badgers answered with an 83-yard drive of their own to tighten the game at 17-14 and that’s where the score would stay as time ran out in the third. The stage was set for an epic fourth-quarter battle.
Early on the Buckeyes were able to notch another field goal after 6 consecutive rushes by Herron for 28 yards, making it 20-14.
Once again the Buckeye D held after giving up only one first down and gave the ball back to the offense at the OSU 37.
Again, OSU elected to keep the ball on the ground, and it paid off as Braxton pulled a Braxton and took the pigskin 44-yards for a score:
With roughly four and a half minutes left on the clock, the Badgers answered immediately, bolstered by a 40-yard Ball run and capped off with a 17-yard TD pass from Wilson to Jared Abbrederis.
Leading 26-21, the Buckeyes needed to hold onto the ball and run out the clock. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case as it took only four plays for Wisconsin to get the ball back. Then it took just four more for this to happen:
God help us. 1:18 left and little to no passing game to speak of. This was Nebraska all over again, only far more heartbreaking.
But as it turns out, Braxton Miller was the only one intent on breaking hearts that night. This was the moment X-Brax was born:
A 40-yard bomb to an open Devin Smith put the Buckeyes up 33-29 with 20 seconds left. A couple of failed Hail Marys later, and the Scarlet and Gray were able to leave the field with smiles after serving up the second last-second loss to the Badgers in consecutive weeks.
Thanks for stumbling in. Let’s do this again sometime.