Trailing 17-10 midway through the 3rd quarter following back to back long Badger touchdown drives, the Buckeyes scored 28 unanswered points, 21 in less than 8 minutes, en route to a 38-17 victory. The come from behind win made it 20 straight inside the conference breaking the all-time mark and moved Ohio State to a perfect 10-0 on the season.
The rally became reality as Beanie Wells put the offense on his back scoring on three 2nd half TD runs (31, 30, 23 yds) including two within 4 minutes turning the 17-10 deficit into a 24-17 lead early in the 4th quarter.
The Buckeyes didn't let up from there as the defense forced a 4th down at Wisconsin's own 27 before Badger punter Ken DeBauche missed the call to not attempt a 2nd fake punt. DeBauche carried off right end but was met by James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman for a 2 yard loss setting up OSU at the 25 yard line. Four plays later, Brian Robiskie made a one handed circus catch of a Todd Boeckman throw giving the Bucks a 31-17 cushion with 10 minutes left.
The defense continued to shine forcing a punt and two fumbles, the last one leading directly to Beanie's 3rd TD of the day giving OSU a unforgiving 38-17 edge with 3 minutes remaining but the game was not without some semi-tense moments considering Wisconsin's past success in the 'Shoe.
Once again, the defense allowed the opponent to score on its opening drive of the game (FG) and also gave up consecutive TD drives (92, 62 yards) to begin the 3rd quarter putting OSU behind 17-10 before the the aforementioned hostile takeover of the game by Beanie and the Bullets.
Immediately after the game I was sorta sarcastically wondering whether or not Tressel engineered a close game like he did last year against Illinois to ensure his team had the confidence of overcoming adversity but I think he decided to go with short passing routes due to so many Wisky players in the box. Giving Beanie just 7 first half carries, it seemed Tressel fell in love with crossing routes or rollouts to the tight end partly out of his natural tendency to be conservative and partly due the offensive line failing to block anyone in a white jersey.
That said, once Beanie returned to action full time and the defense rediscovered it's rhythm the end result was another statement win keeping the Buckeyes in control of their destiny. It's two wins to New Orleans and three from erasing the nightmare in Glendale. Buckle up.. It's time for the stretch run.
Is it too late for Beanie to get into the Heisman race? He topped the 1,000 yards barrier on his very first tote and finished the game with 169 yards on just 21 carries. Beanie was extra large in the 2nd half carrying 17 times for 137 yards and 3 TDs. His presence helped the Buckeyes to 4 TD's on seven 2nd half possessions as he showed his power on the inside runs and his speed to the corner on outside runs proving too much for the Badgers to handle. Beanie has now rushed for over 100 yards in 3 straight games and 7 of 10 on the year. His 8.0 yards per carry was his 2nd best of the year (8.3 Northwestern) and his career high 3 TDs gave him 10 on the season.
To their credit, the offensive line overcame a pathetic first half opening up some holes for Beanie and protecting Todd Boeckman in the 2nd half to fuel the offensive outburst.
Boeckman finished 17/28 for 166 yards and 2 TDs through the air and rushed the ball a season high 7 times for 27 yards, mostly the result of the early shoddy line play. He looked more comfortable in the face of the line breakdowns resulting in zero turnovers, a few busted scrambles for decent yards and the occasional smart throw away after escaping the pocket only to find no open receivers. Boeckman has thrown for at least 2 TDs in every game giving him 23 against 8 INT's after 10 games.
On the outside, Brian Hartline led the team with 7 catches for 95 yards and Brian Robiskie had a big day with 2 TD catches including the amazing one handed grab on an 8 yarder giving OSU breathing room (31-17) with less than a quarter to play.
For the game, the Buckeyes rushed for 211 yards and passed for 166 for a total of 377. To me, the most impressive take away was the 10 play, 80 yard drive to tie the game at 17 answering Wisconsin's back to back TD marches. If the unit comes out flat on that possession, an upset could've been possible but that became a non-issue as Beanie chewed up 63 yards on 6 carries including the 31 yard dash to paydirt to begin the 28 point onslaught.
The defense had another impressive day although it too ran into some trouble along the way. The D continued the recent trend of surrendering points on the opponents initial drive, giving up a FG on Wisky's first possesion of the game and TD's on the first two Badger possessions in the second half.
The other 8 possesions resulted in punts or turnovers as the defense gave up just 29 total yards not counting the final meaningless Wisconsin possession that picked up 43 yards before stalling at the OSU 27 yard line.
It looked like a personal battle for defensive player of the game broke out between James Laurinaitis and Vernon Gholstin as each had a feast on the big but slow Wisconsin offense.
Laurinaitis responded to last week's 2 tackle effort with a career high 19 tackles (2 TFL), 1 sack and a fumble recovery. The peformance also included a key stop on Wisconsin's 2nd fake punt attempt setting up the Boeckman to Robo TD connection.
Meanwhile, 'Vern Baby Vern' picked up 4 sacks, tying the school record, showing off his speed rush all day long. Vern's effort helped OSU record a season high 10 sacks against an offense that had given up just 8 on the season. Helping L'il Animal and the Gun Show, Doug Worthington hung out in the Wisconsin backfield registering 4 stops including a sack. Anderson Russell had a nice day in the secondary recording 8 tackles and a pass breakup.
The Buckeyes defense gave up a season high 17 points but give some credit to Wisconsin QB Tyler Donovan and uber TE Travis Beckum. Donovan made a few miraculous throws that can only be considered out of character including a perfect 28 yard strike to Beckum in the back of the endzone to tie the game at 10 before connecting with Beckum again for 46 yards on the next drive setting up a 2 yard TD throw to Chris Pressley to give Wisconsin the short lived 17-10 edge.
In conclusion, the defense once again stepped up when it needed to. The Silver Bullets allowed just 63 yards on 20 carries by backup RB Zach Brown and the 10 sacks shrunk the net rush yards allowed to just 12 on 37 carries. Through the air, Beckum finished with 140 yards on 9 catches but the coverage was tight for much of the day. Chimdi Chekwa was stride for stride with Beckum pretty consistently but Donovan simply made some nice throws.
The special continue to be up and down. There's no excuse for having a FG blocked for the third time this season. Those mistakes can be fatal in close games. Kickoff returns were also less than impressive. Ray Small's hesitation bringing one out of the endzone cost the Buckeyes 5 yards.
The punt return unit faired no better as Hartline and Small mostly ran sideways with 5 punts resulting in 6 net return yards. Small broke one for a big gain but it was negated by a penalty.
Aaron Pettrey split kickoff duty with A.J. Trapasso and recorded 1 touchback in 3 tries while Trapasso went 0 for 4. Trapasso averaged 41 yards on 4 punts including 1 inside the 20.
OSU is now 67-9-1 when ranked #1 and set a school record with 28 straight regular season wins...The Buckeyes are now 28-9 against Top 25 teams in the Tressel Era...OSU has scored on it's opening drive in 8 of 10 games including the last 6 straight...On the season, the defense has forced 52 three-and-outs on 116 total possessions, good for 45%.