If anybody thought for a second the Wisconsin Badgers would roll over and let the almighty Buckeyes come into Camp Randall and run away with this one, they were severely wrong. And wrong from the get go, that is.
With the nation watching and the number one team in the land visiting Madison, the Badgers were up to the task. UW wasted no time setting the tone on Saturday as David Gilreath took the opening kickoff 97 yards for a score to send the Camp Randall crowd into a frenzy. Gilreath received several key blocks and a huge one from Fullback Bradie Ewing to spring him into open field.
The Badgers were not done yet as they quickly got the ball back and marched down the field for another score to make it 14-0. Bucky dominated the first half on both sides of the ball as they opened a 21-3 halftime lead. UW racked up 197 yards in the opening half as they established a fierce run game against an extremely stingy Ohio State defense.
For the past couple years the big, signature win has escaped Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema. Bielema entered the contest with an 0-3 mark against the Buckeyes including an ugly 31-13, give-away loss last year in Columbus. As the second half got underway, it looked like the game was slipping from the grasp of Wisconsin players and coaches as the Buckeyes finally found the end zone making it 21-10. As the Buckeyes continued to stack eight guys in the box, Wisconsin was again forced to punt the ball away and let Terrelle Pryor go to work. The Bucks put together a 19 play, 94 yard drive that ate up more than nine minutes of clock to make it 21-18 after they converted the two-point conversion.
Gut-check time for Wisconsin.
What the Badgers did next has not happened for a long time and just might define their season. 10 plays, 73 yards, touchdown. Scott Tolzien and company converted two huge third downs before James White capped off the drive with an incredible cutback run that left Buckeye defenders on the ground.
Before it was all said and done, Philip Welch added a 41-yard field goal to give the Badgers a 31-18 cushion and linebacker Blake Sorensen sealed the deal when he picked off Pryor with under two minutes to play. The interception capped off a career-best performance for the senior from Minnesota as he finished with 10 tackles, including a half a tackle for a loss.
The balanced offensive attack was genius by offensive coordinator Paul Chryst. John Clay lead the rushing attack with 104 yards on 21 carries to go along with a pair of scores while White added 75 yards on 17 carries. They continue to be the perfect compliment to each other. The Buckeyes hadn’t given up a 100-yard rusher in 29 games. Scott Tolzien quietly completed 13 of his 16 attempts, six of those to Nick Toon who has put his early-season struggles behind him.
The Badgers defense was outstanding throughout the contest as they limited Ohio State to just 311 yards, well below their average. Ohio State converted less than half of their third-down conversions, many of those coming in the first half when the Badgers jumped out to a 21-0 lead. J.J. Watt continues to be a monster for UW as he finished with two sacks and put pressure on Pryor all game. Along with Watt and Sorensen, Culmer St. Jean and the rest of the crew played very well delivering bone-crushing on several occasions.
Now the Badgers will head west for their toughest road test of the season as they visit the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. The Badgers may be without stud linebacker Mike Taylor as he suffered a knee injury in the win. More will be known later on in the week. Reserve Kevin Claxton filled in nicely for the Badgers but their depth is running dangerously thin at a position that was a strength coming into the year. The program-defining win will go for naught if the Badgers go into Iowa and lay an egg against the Hawkeyes. Bielema insists he’ll have his troops ready come Saturday for another prime-time performance.
About the Author
Written by Chad Seely
Hey sports fans! Welcome to my Wisconsin Badgers football blog. For any Badger scores, news or questions you may have, come check out this blog! For those who don't know me, I'm a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. I graduated in May 2009 with a Broadcast Journalism degree and returned in Fall 2009 to get a Minor in Multimedia which I completed in May 2010. In the summer, you can catch me on AM1230 WSBB, splitting time as the play-by-play announcer and color commentator for the Daytona Cubs, the Advanced-A Affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.