The Stumbler: Volume Eleven – Breaking Bielema

By Jeff Beck on February 27, 2013 at 5:00p
22 Comments
Stumble In

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

grabby"You can't always get what you want" - The Rolling Stones

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.

22 Comments

Comments

OSUAndy07's picture

Man, what a game. I was mostly drunk, dressed as a Ghostbuster, and staring intently at the TV screen for the entire game in a room full of people who otherwise didn't care. Awesome

"But I'm tryin' Ringo. I'm tryin', real hard, to be the shepherd"

Devin1024's picture

Drunk and dressed as a Ghostbuster...I've been there, brother.

BucksfanXC's picture

Is there a club we can sign up for?

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

Devin1024's picture

Not sure if there is, but I think it's about time we started one...

Rfahncke's picture

Me 3.

"Have you earned your buckeye today?"

Jack Fu's picture

I was drunk and dressed as the eleventh doctor. Good times.

Hovenaut's picture

That was just awesome. Wisky was supposed to be in the NC race, the arrival of Wilson and the dominance of Ball and all that.

Lo and behold, a very wounded Buckeye squad found some fight in them....and a quarterback.

As tough as that year was, that win was as awesome as they get. Thanks for revisiting.

Hate Week runneth over

cinserious's picture

That win over Wisconsin was a pivotal turning point from the dark cloud OSU football was in 2011 (scandal-ridden worst team in history) to what it became in 2012 (only undefeated team in CFB) and beyond..... THE FUTURE IS OURS!!!

Life's daily struggle is choosing between saying F--ck-it, or soldiering on with your responsibilities.  

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

I watched that game from the Mandalay Bay sports book in Vegas. I about flipped out of my gourd.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

DigDugOSU's picture

Some grad student sold me his tickets...for face value, thanks kid.  I was on the 30 yard line behind Ohio States bench in AA seat a row from the field.....I rushed the field at the end of the game and was celebrating with XBrax himself at the 50yrd line, while some TV lady was getting mobbed trying to do an interview.  How many more days till football season?

Grant Edgell's picture

Bert Bielema running up the sideline in pure panic and desperation, hoping to God that Braxton was over the line of scrimmage when he threw the ball, is absolutely priceless. Meanwhile Brax was simultaneously running the same direction with a shit-eatin grin on his face and a new, freshly minted XBrax360 nickname in tow.

sir rickithda3rd's picture

that game is my only highlight from the worst yr in buckeye football that ive witnessed

mark may wins douchebag of the year... again

Dougger's picture

I was at the urinal when boom ran that first long run in the second half, so i was pretty upset.. but that was a great game, one of the better ones ive ever been to. i'm disappointed those highlights don't have the sound of the crowd reacting in jubilation.
I enjoy see bert lose.

I like football

cajunbuckeye's picture

I can relive that game a million more times. It never gets old and still makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Braxton plunging the wooden stake into the heart of Badgerland....priceless!!!

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

DefendOhio's picture

I also remember that was the week you really started to hear legit rumors on Urban coming to Columbus. 

Poison nuts's picture

As much as I have many OSU games that mean a lot to me, that game was probably the most excited I ever got when they won...The whole scandal thing & uncertainty at coach...that game just made me feel like things could work out. And they did.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

stittracer99's picture

Not only did Braxton become XBrax in this game, but Shazier really showcased his big play making ability and Devin Smith breaking onto the scene with his first real momentum shifting TD grab. It's amazing that in a subpar 6-7 year a game could mean as much as this one did. It really foreshadowed what was to come in 2012. I don't think we go 12-0 last year without our guys having played and experienced this game in 2011. You could tell there was no panic in our team during that final drive vs Purdue. It was a "been there, done that" attitude, even with our back-up QB in the game. Then the huge goal line stand against those same Bertgers in Madison was the perfect blend of freakish individual ability and "right place right time" team chemistry, much like this game.

BuckeyeMike2002's picture

I'm glad that Urban kept Luke Fickell on the 2012 staff. The Wisconsin game marked the emergence of Braxton but it also showed that Luke Fickell did a decent job in the situation he was given. I don't know that we will ever fully appreciate how down this group was in 2011.
This Wisconsin game was one of the times during that season that Ohio State felt like Ohio State. Thanks for sharing this one with us. It was a lot of fun.

Q: What is the difference between the Michigan Football Team and a bag of crap.

A: The Bag.

niblick's picture

at the game, AA section about 10 feet from the field.

SMP's picture

What a game and roller coaster of emotions!  When Wisky scored their last TD, I was purely ticked off.  Then the 40 yard TD connection was euphoric.  Hell, I nearly passed out and pissed my pants! 

MediBuck's picture

I remember I was on the couch, laid up with the worst fever of my life (later started coughing up blood, found out I had a bad bronchitis). I don't know if it was the infection or the fact that I had been sick since the previous week while watching the Nebraska meltdown, but I was in a pretty pessimistic mood.
Then, Miller-to-Devin happened, and the strength of a thousand oxen hit me as I leaped out of the sofa, and ran multiple laps around the house screaming. My roommates probably thought I was insane. I almost broke my foot and missed work the next day from exertion in the cold, but it was so, so worth it.

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes