Wisconsin relives many familiar horrors against Ohio State

first_imgCOLUMBUS, Ohio – Halloween weekend was truly horrific for the Wisconsin Badgers.For the second consecutive week, a last-second heave to the endzone felled No. 15 Wisconsin (7-2, 3-2), as Ohio State (5-3, 2-2) freshman quarterback Braxton Miller evaded the UW pass rush, rolled right and lobbed the football to a wide-open Devin Smith, who easily caught the pass for a 40-yard touchdown with 20 seconds remaining in the 33-29 Buckeyes victory.The stunning loss comes one week after the Badgers lost to Michigan State on a 44-yard Hail Mary as time expired. That game was heartbreaking in its own right – Wisconsin’s national title hopes were dashed, quarterback Russell Wilson’s Heisman Trophy hopes were essentially ruined and the Badgers’ perfect season was annihilated.Saturday night in Columbus? Heartbreak only begins to describe what happened to Wisconsin.“I guess we always believe that everything happens for a reason, and these things are just so overwhelmingly negative,” head coach Bret Bielema said. “I know we’ve got great kids, and unfortunately this is a learning experience that the only way you get it is to go through it.”Cruel and unusual as Ohio State’s final score seemed, Wisconsin should have seen the writing on the wall.For the second consecutive week, the Badgers’ opponent blocked a Brad Nortman punt that resulted in a touchdown shortly after. Wilson, though his final numbers of 20-for-32 passing, 253 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions painted an impressive picture, struggled with his accuracy, missing many more throws than he had in any other game to date. Running back Montee Ball, despite finishing with a healthy 5.0 yards per carry average with 85 yards on 17 carries, took a while to truly get going – along with the rest of Wisconsin’s rushing attack.For the first time since the Nov. 21, 2009, game at Northwestern, Wisconsin was held under 100 rushing yards. Ohio State, despite its unranked status, was buoyed by the seventh-highest crowd in Ohio Stadium history (105,511) in stifling the nation’s No. 5 scoring offense (47.4 points per game).“You can tell Ohio State’s pretty good. Defeating some blocks, it was tough to get the edge on them all day,” Bielema said. “We tried to get some plays going inside and outside, and they were very, very good. They’re a solid football team defensively.”Also similar to the Michigan State game was how Wisconsin began the game, winning the opening coin toss and electing to receive yet again. Against MSU, UW scored a touchdown on its first drive. Saturday, the Badgers were stifled after a four-play, 27-yard drive. After stopping Ohio State on its first drive, Wisconsin developed an eight-play, 69-yard drive that culminated in a 22-yard pass from Wilson to Ball.Ohio State did not score until 2:25 remained in the second quarter, on a 39-yard field goal from kicker Drew Basil. Wisconsin was fortunate to take a 7-3 lead into halftime but clearly disappointed with its lack of offensive production.“I think that they came out with some big stops,” Wilson said. “In terms of lacking urgency, you don’t want to go too fast all the time. You want to make sure that everybody’s clicking, everybody’s on the same page – especially when you’re playing away, you want to make sure everybody’s understanding everything and what’s going on the field.”Continuing the critical, repeated miscues himself, Wilson once again was called for a crucial intentional grounding penalty. Last week in East Lansing, Mich., the call was undeniable, as Wilson dropped back deep into his own endzone to pass and was forced to get rid of the football. Grounding was called, and since the penalty was committed in UW’s endzone, a safety was called.Saturday night’s call was much closer, but it came on the first play of the fourth quarter (last week’s was in the second). At Wisconsin’s own 21-yard line, Wilson rolled right beyond the right hashmark to avoid the Buckeye pass rush, curled back to his left and crossed back over the hash in doing so. He appeared to simply throw the ball away again, toward the OSU sideline, though it seemed Wilson might have been outside the pocket.“Yeah, I definitely thought I was out of the pocket on the intentional grounding,” Wilson said. “Plus, we had [wide receiver Nick] Toon coming across the field, so I was trying to throw it to him or get it near him. He was on the hash, if not past the hash. It’s just one of those things, I thought it was not intentional grounding, but they called it and you can’t do anything about it.”As if a vital Big Ten loss on the road – along with all the miscues – wasn’t painful enough, Bielema evoked some of the horrors of Michigan State once again with his timeout usage late in the game. In East Lansing, the Badgers had all three timeouts remaining with less than two minutes remaining in the game. Bielema used all three on MSU’s last drive, which began at the 1:26 mark with the score tied at 31-31 and the Spartans beginning from their own 25-yard line. The last timeout was called with 30 seconds left and seemed to allow a Michigan State team content to let the clock run out into overtime with another chance to eek out a win, as it eventually did.Against Ohio State, Wisconsin carried two timeouts into the final quarter. Trailing 26-21, Bielema called both while OSU began from its own 20-yard line with 3:48 left on the clock. The first came before 3rd-and-5, which the Buckeyes eventually failed to convert after committing a holding penalty that the Badgers declined. After that play, on 4th-and-1, Bielema called UW’s final timeout, with 2:49 left on the clock and a punt pending.Doing so gave Wisconsin ample time to score the go-ahead touchdown at the 1:18 mark, but that also ultimately proved too much time to give Miller and the Ohio State offense. The Buckeyes scored for the final time with 20 seconds left, and though the Badgers were able to scamper as far as OSU’s 45-yard line in that time span, it was ultimately not enough.“You have to win on the road,” Henry said. “Unfortunately for us, we haven’t been able to do that the last two weeks. But believe me, we’ll get it right, and we’ll get it together. It’s back at square one, and we’ve got to do the things that we know are necessary and put us in a great position to win.”last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *