The Buckeye Watch - Wisconsin
By Tony Gerdeman
It's amazing the way a brief moment can capture time itself and just lock it away, and in doing so, that moment then becomes timeless. What was once just seconds now lasts forever. That's what happened when Braxton Miller found Devin Smith in the waning ticks of Saturday night's clock.
Smith, cradling the football like it was his last possession, fell to the ground having just lived out a life's worth of dreams, all in a matter of seconds.
Boom Herron, a captain for this game, with tears streaming down his cheeks before the game even started, led his team against Wisconsin, and he had them ready to secure that split-second moment when it came to them.
A defense that had been maligned in previous losses—one that wasn't thought to be a good matchup against the Badgers' skill and style of play—withstood so many challenges for so long. Yet when Russell Wilson had his moments, they almost completely wiped out what the defense had accomplished to that point. Nearly 59 minutes of defense, undone in one broken play.
Saturday night gave us a great game because moments were made when opportunities arose—no matter how brief or how fleeting those opportunities were. One second in time can live forever provided you make it count, and the Buckeyes certainly did that against Wisconsin.
7:12 This is my first chance getting a look at these Nike Pro Combat uniforms live. I hope they look better on television than they do from the press box. They look like unlicensed jerseys that us poor kids used to have to buy.
7:19 Jaamal Berry is warming up down on the field. If he gets on the field tonight, I hope he witnesses some linebackers get hit by a car and reacts accordingly.
7:37 I can't believe Iowa lost to Minnesota. It's hard to make Big Ten Coach of the Year jokes if there's no semblance of reality to them anymore.
7:43 It's 22 minutes until kickoff and the stadium might be half full right now. The tailgates are still very packed, I'm guessing. Just a note to fans, it's fine to get drunk, but you're supposed to be getting drunk in order to support your team. Either stop drinking sooner, or build up your tolerance, you pansies.
8:04 Why is Boom crying? Is the cheese smell burning his eyes.
8:05 Wisconsin wins the toss and wants the ball. You fool, Bielema! There is absolutely no wind tonight, which means the Buckeye passing game won't be askeered!
8:06 Drew Basil kicks off to James White at the goal line and Nate Ebner gets things started with a nice tackle at the 16-yard line. Set the tone early.
8:07 Play-action on first down and Russell Wilson hits Jared Abbrederis on a slant for 18 yards on Travis Howard. But the tone was set!! Didn't you see it JUST GET SET?
8:09 Third and three. These manageable third downs were what killed the Buckeyes last year in Madison, and the Badgers can do anything on third and three. Wilson drops back, gets pressure. He scrambles and comes up a yard short! He had a lot of room that got closed out quick. Here comes the punt. Success for the Buckeyes. Nice going, Bret! Always defer!
8:11 Awesome, the first Buckeye drive will start right in my blind spot. Ohio State starts out in the pistol, which is no surprise. The give goes to Boom and he reverses field a bit and cuts back inside the scrum for twelve yards. Should've been one yard, he cut it back up with vision and found some punting room.
8:12 Play-action. Miller's going deep...and it goes off of Philly Brown's face. What? Wow. Though Braxton Miller will have to learn not to throw the ball at his receivers' eyes, because the ball then blocks their ability to see the ball. Not a pretty throw, but perfect placement. Is it possible to have a play be encouraging and discouraging at the same time?
8:14 The Badgers hold and force an Ohio State punt. The Buckeyes can't afford to miss opportunities like that. Fortunately it happened early and not late.
8:20 Wisconsin has two receivers to one side, which puts Tyler Moeller in coverage on a receiver because the cornerback didn't come with Nick Toon when he went in motion. Play-action and Wilson finds Toon who makes a tremendous catch at the 38-yard line. Moeller had great coverage, but Toon still somehow caught it. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Badgers attack this alignment quite a bit tonight.
8:22 Third and seven from the Ohio State 22-yard line. Badgers go with three wides. Adam Bellamy gets pressure, then got held. Wilson dumps it to Montee Ball, who avoids a Christian Bryant interception attempt and walks into the endzone. Unbelievable the way Bryant just ran through the ball. He could've blown that play up and chose instead to run by it. That's strange for him because he's never been one to avoid the contact. Badgers lead it 7-0.
8:23 By the way, the term "Wisconsin" is an old Algonquin word which means "grasps like mighty bear".
8:27 First and ten, time to run the ball. Boom loses three. I wonder if Ohio State can just take the option of starting with second and ten instead of risking a loss on first down. Would the opposing coach be okay with that?
8:28 Braxton's in the shotgun. It's a QB draw. He jukes Chris Borland and spins away from Mike Taylor and falls down at the 37-yard line for the first down. That's pretty impressive right there. He just spun Wisconsin's two best linebackers—and two of the best in the Big Ten—into the turf.
8:29 Boom loses another yard. He keeps getting further and further away from that 55 yards he needs to secure Ohio State's .950 winning percentage when he rushes for 55 yards or more.
8:30 Third and twelve. Will the ball leave the ground? Braxton drops back and hits Philly on the deep out for 15 yards! Great finger tip, tiptoe grab on the sideline. All tips on deck! All tips on deck!
8:32 So far my review on Braxton Miller's ability to throw is positive. Clearly he's a night game maniac. Ohio State should move all of their games to the evening. (Because I love working until four in the morning.)
8:35 Another third and twelve. This is not conducive to victory. Miller drops back and finds Jake Stoneburner for the first down, but he drops it. The receivers are letting their quarterback down emphatically tonight. Maybe the receivers were tailgating today too. You know, the way Braxton is throwing right now, maybe Jim Bollman should let him throw earlier in the downs. The Buckeyes punt.
8:38 Third and one. Another manageable third down. Montee Ball gets it and picks up a yard. He barely got to the marker. Actually, they're gonna review it. He looked short on the replay. Wow, he's a yard short. Two feet at least, and they gave him a first down without measuring. It's bad enough if you're gonna let Wisconsin hold, don't also give them fake yards.
8:40 The review calls it short! The Buckeyes hold once again.
8:43 We have reached the end of the first quarter. The Badgers lead it 7-0, but the Buckeyes are most definitely in this thing. They're still going to have to play better on both sides than they have all year to actually win it. After all, Wisconsin's offensive line will continue to hold, so the Buckeyes will have to overcome it.
8:45 Braxton is 1-3 throwing. He sucks.
8:47 Braxton keeps it and gets drilled after an eight-yard run. He was helicoptered, but it's okay, it was just his head.
8:48 Third and four. Manageable. Shotgun. Empty. Five receivers. Slant to Philly for six yards. Can you believe the Buckeyes are throwing slants? I didn't know they were aware of their existence! I mean, I assume they've watched shows about slants on like Syfy and the History Channel, but those were just mainly “Does The Slant Pass Exist?” types of shows. People go into the woods looking for evidence of the slant pass. They show you grainy photos. Is it a slant pass? It's hard to tell—it could just be a bear.
8:49 False start J.B. Shugarts. The press box winds their watches.
8:50 Speed option keeper for Braxton picks up four yards. Wisconsin did a great job defending it and he still got four yards. You'll take that all day long.
8:51 Third and five. Miller's going deep and he overthrows Philly Brown down by the five-yard line. The Buckeyes will now punt from the Badger 39-yard line. I don't like going deep on third and five ever. In fact, I would probably prefer every other play to that one. Ben Buchanan pins the Badgers down at the eight-yard line.
8:55 The crowd is sobering up. Get some whiskey out here stat!
8:57 Third and four for the Badgers. It's a draw play to Montee Ball and he's a yard short. Buckeyes doing all they can tonight. They have contained Ball very well to this point.
8:58 Wisconsin punts and Jordan Hall is hit immediately at the Buckeye 46-yard line. Fair catches are for pansies and Canadians. The Buckeyes have flipped the field, now they need to turn it into points.
9:03 Third and ten. Badgers send a blitz, Jordan Hall picks it up. Braxton takes off, owns a dude who was spying him, and picks up fourteen yards and a first down on the scramble. Note to spies: If you're spying but not tackling, you're about as useful as a land buoy.
9:04 First and ten. Loss of two for Boom out wide. So now Braxton will have to bail them out on another second or third and long. No biggie.
9:05 Second and twelve. No gain to Herron so now the boos come, directed at Jim Bollman. Let's see if the freshman quarterback that the offensive coordinator won't trust can pull them out of another jam.
9:06 Shotgun. Miller scrambles and dumps it off to Jordan Hall for a six-yard gain. This will leave Drew Basil with something makeable.
9:07 Here comes the 39-yard attempt...and Basil banks it in! Of course he does. Wisconsin now leads 7-3.
9:07 What an amazing drive. It was like an episode of “The Killing”. It lasted an hour and never really went anywhere.
9:13 Third and five. Russell Wilson rolls out and is sacked by John Simon! Loss of six yards. Fickell is ten yards out on the field calling a timeout with 1:03 to play. Tressel would still be letting the clock run. They set the clock back to 1:06.
9:16 Wisconsin punts. Jordan Hall calls for a fair catch but he gets knocked down by his own man and the ball is rolling around, but the Buckeyes get it back. There are 56 seconds left to play, but with the ball inside their own ten-yard line, the offense is likely too scared to do anything with the ball.
9:21 The Badgers force a quick three and out and Ben Buchanan's punt is fair caught at the Wisconsin 46-yard line with about 33 seconds to play.
9:22 Whoa! The slot was running free and the throw was behind Ball and incomplete. That might have been six if Wilson had hit him in stride. Wow.
9:23 Third and one. John Simon gets after Wilson and gets tackled for his effort, but there's Adam Bellamy to notch the coverage sack and end the half. Wow, Simon was arm dragged down like William Gholston did to Taylor Lewan. Badgers go to the locker room with a 7-3 lead, but they can't feel very good right about now.
9:26 Wisconsin has twelve carries for ten yards in the first half. That might be the stat of the year. Amazing.
9:38 You know, if the Buckeyes can catch the ball—and throw it more than they did in the first half, they can win this.
9:39 Ohio State leads time of possession 18:21 to 11:39. That's a winning formula. Even though the Badgers lead 7-3, this half was a win for the Buckeyes.
9:45 We're back to playing football. Jordan Hall returns the kickoff to the 25-yard line and does it without being tackled by his own teammate.
9:46 The Buckeyes open in the pistol and Boom breaks free all the way down to the 17-yard line! That's 57 yell-filled yards for Boom. Giving credit where it is due, right before the play Marc Givler from Rivals mentioned that they need to start letting Boom get a head start, and that's exactly what happened here. There was no slow development, it was all downhill, and it was good.
9:48 Boom kicks it out to the right and gets knocked out of bounds at the two-yard line. The crowd is “BOOOOOM”-ing. Downhill running, who would've thought.
9:49 Second and goal. Boom touchdown somehow! He dodged Mike Taylor, bounced backwards and then punched it in. They'll review it. Yep. It's close.
9:51 Replay overrules the touchdown. Why Boom take knee?
9:52 Third and goal. Herron is short. Way short. Second down was the play-action down. It's too obvious on third down. Miller doesn't necessarily have the power to sneak it. Bring in Bauserman?
9:53 Fourth and goal. It's a play-action bootleg and Braxton Miller destroyed Brendan Kelly and walks in. The press box was awed. I thought that was gonna be the second down call. Buckeyes lead it 10-7. Buckeyes should wear pro combats every game! Also, insert every “leaving your jock” joke you've ever heard here please. Thank you. Buckeyes lead it 10-7.
9:59 Second and six. Play-action. Big Hank just got his jersey pulled over his head. This ain't hockey, though admittedly I would love to see Big Hank on skates. Wilson threw the ball out of bounds, by the way.
10:01 The Buckeyes hold and will force a punt. It's BLOCKED! Curtis Grant scoops it up and dives into the endzone!! They're saying he's down at the one-yard line, but who cares! Ryan Shazier went around the reach block and popped it into the air. This might really be happening, you guys.
10:02 I was watching the television and missed that a play was run. How was that not reviewed? Hall on the carry? Loss of one? Why is he carrying the ball here?
10:03 Third and goal. Hall gets it yet again and fights to the left side and somehow scrapes it into the endzone. Wow. The tide has turn...no, not yet. Let's not do that just yet. Buckeyes lead it 17-7.
10:04 I told John they should've taken more time off the clock, and he correctly pointed out that they did all they could from one-yard out. There is still 9:26 to play in the third quarter.
10:08 Montee Ball picks up 13 yards on a play where Big Hank gets completely spun around. Cclearly he is the type of defender who can get completely spun around without being held. Clearly.
10:09 Third and six. The crowd is ready to go nuts. Shotgun. Wilson is pressured by John Simon and he bails out like a Frenchman.
10:10 Here's the punt. Hall muffs it again and Wisconsin recovers it at the 28-yard line. There's your turnover, Fishbulb.
10:16 Third and goal from he one-yard line. There's a huge hole and Ball walks in. We're back to playing a stupid football game again. College football is so dumb. The Buckeyes' lead is cut to 17-14.
10:19 The Buckeyes go with five wide again. Is tonight the first we've seen that this year with Braxton? There's another slant to Philly for 7 yards. It's amazing that it takes eight weeks to figure this pass play out.
10:22 Third and eleven. Just two receivers. Miller drops back, has Stoneburner, but it gets knocked down by Mike Taylor. Taylor dropped too deep for Miller and he couldn't fit the ball over him to hit the open Stoneburner.
10:23 Buchanan punts it and for some reason Jared Abbrederis fields it at the five-yard line. He's tackled at the eight by Zach Domicone. There's a flag. Block in the back. Gonna move it to the four-yard line. Wow, how much special teams fail can you have in one punt return?
10:25 We have now reached the end of the third quarter. I am typing with one hand because the other is holding up four fingers. Buckeyes still lead it 17-14. Just fifteen minutes to go. What an incredible performance by this defense. The run is shut down and the play-action downfield is non-existent. It's nearly impossible to do both of those things against a team like the Badgers.
10:29 Wilson gets pressured and throws it way away. Intentional grounding! He actually left the tackle box, and then went back in. That was like Devin Gardner at his worst right there.
10:30 The Badgers are forced to punt. Jordan Hall makes a man miss on the return and gets it to the Wisconsin 33-yard line. The Buckeyes have to capitalize with seven here. A field goal won't be enough.
10:34 First and ten. Boom finds a big hole up the middle for 16 yards. Zach Boren blasted somebody. Gonna need dental records to identify this dude. Ah, it was Borland. I saw his jersey imprinted on the rubber turf.
10:37 The Buckeyes can't finish and they'll have to settle for a 22-yard field goal. Drew Basil nails it without the benefit of a ricochet this time. He didn't feel the need to go for anything fancy there apparently. Ohio State leads it 20-14 with 10:39 remaining. I think a field goal makes people more nervous there than a punt would have.
10:41 Ball gets nothing again and probably doesn't like it. Storm Klein shut him down very nicely. This was a game that was going to rely on the linebackers having their best game of the season, and it would seem that they have done just that. The defensive line is keeping them clean and they're everywhere they're supposed to be. They're making tackles to boot.
10:44 Fourth and one from the Ohio State 43-yard line. It's a toss to the left with Ball...he's gonna be short! Andrew Sweat and Etienne Sabino were there to stuff it wide. Sabino slowed it down and Sweat cleaned it up. The Buckeyes are going crazy on the sideline. The linebackers had to show up tonight and they have. Amazing.
10:49 Third and four. Braxton leaves Brendan Kelly in a puddle of his own waste yet again on the sack attempt, and then he gets away and slips between Mike Taylor and Chris Borland for the diving first down. This kid is unbelievable. Reached out for the marker and got it. Give this kid more to do. Please.
10:50 There is 6:06 to play. Can the Buckeyes continue doing what Wisconsin did last year—just keep keep the ball away?
10:51 Third and two. Big play for the offensive line here. Two receivers twins right. Pistol. Can Braxton do it again? Speed option and Miller's gone for the touchdown!! He keeps it and a legend is born! Terrelle Pryor went up and won at Madison on a slippery final minute touchdown, and we've got shades of it here again. The Buckeyes call timeout and will likely go for two here.
10:52 They don't get it. There's 4:39 to play and it's time to head down to the field.
10:53 Well, well, well...Barry Alvarez is waiting at the elevator as well. And here comes John Cooper and Shawn Springs. Pleasantries are exchanged. Alvarez has a look of disbelief on his face. Oh hey, Michael Redd is here as well. And me. All of us. On the ride down, it is understood by everybody that this game is over. Alvarez has conceded. Coop is happy, but staying cool. Alvarez can't believe what he's witnessed tonight.
10:58 Walking to the field and I hear the crowd begin to groan as Montee Ball busts a long run down to the 17-yard line.
10:59 Hey great, touchdown Wisconsin. Wilson hits Abbrederis from 17 yards out with Bradley Roby in coverage. It's now 26-21 with 3:48 to play. Maybe I should head back up to the press box.
11:01 Now Barry Alvarez is standing next to me and noticeably happier. This is pretty surreal right now.
11:03 Boom picks up two yards on first down. Bret Bielema will save his timeouts for second and third down.
11:06 The Badgers hold and force a punt with 2:49 to play. Abbrederis fields the punt and is tackled at the Wisconsin 37-yard line. This place is going to get freaking loud now.
11:10 Touchdown Abbrederis. Broken coverage. Wilson pumped and then went to Abbrederis who had absolutely nobody on him. How does that happen? Who let this happen? Why did this happen? And it happened right in front of me. Abbrederis was running right to me. I thought for a second that he would drop it just because of how open he was. Unbelievable. And the two-point conversion is good as well. Wisconsin leads it 29-26 with 1:18 to play.
11:11 Alvarez tells us that Russell Wilson should never be underestimated. Clearly.
11:13 Jordan Hall returns the kickoff to midfield! This is huge. Or as Alvarez just put it, “That's ******* crazy.”
11:14 Braxton drops back and dumps it off to Boren for seven yards. The clock is ticking. Under 55 seconds to play now. They hurry to the line.
11:15 Braxton scrambles and he's short of the first down. Luke Fickell calls a timeout with 43 seconds to play. Buckeyes have one timeout remaining. They're only seven or eight yards from a legitimate field goal shot, but they have to get the first down or it won't matter.
11:16 Boom gets the ball and picks up three yards for the first down. The clock stops at 38 seconds.
11:17 Players are shifting everywhere. Braxton drops back, scrambles, avoids a sack, heaves it up into the endzone and Devin Smith somehow came down with it for the touchdown! He came down with it!! The sideline is going crazy. Everybody. I've never seen anything like this. It's insane. Uh oh. They're going to review to see if he was past the line of scrimmage. The replay on the scoreboard looks good. Players are celebrating. I think recruits and their parents are celebrating. This has to be torturous for the players.
11:18 After further review, the touchdown is confirmed! Everybody's going crazy again! A parent just tried to high-five me, but I had to decline as a media rule. This is simply amazing. A season's worth of misery and frustration was just released.There's still 20 seconds to go. Buckeyes lead it 33-29. Somehow.
11:20 Drew Basil's kickoff goes out of bounds? Why? Why??? Wisconsin will get the ball at the 40-yard line and no time comes off the clock. Worst of all possibilities.
11:21 Wilson drops back, gets pressured by John Simon and flings it down inside the 20-yard line and it hit Nick Toon in the hand and Bradley Roby got hit in the gut with the ball and couldn't come up with it.
11:22 Wilson drops back again, leaves the pocket and heaves it downfield again to Toon and he had two hands on it this time but C.J. Barnett breaks it up! There's five seconds to play. He has to go for everything here.
11:23 Wilson drops back and throws it down the left sideline and it's knocked down, but there are penalties everywhere. Of course there are. Pass interference is declined, but a personal foul facemask is accepted. That puts the ball at the Ohio State 40-yard line with one final untimed down.
11:24 It all comes down to this play. After losing on a hail mary last week, the Badgers are going to try one of their own. Wilson drops back, gets pressured wide, and then from the inside by Andrew Sweat who gets his hand on the ball and knocks it down!! The Buckeyes win!! Braxton Miller saves the world!
11:25 Now the stands are emptying. People are climbing down out of their seats all around me. I want to tell them that it's just Wisconsin, but the season has brought about this need for catharsis, not Wisconsin. The stadium is swollen with joy right now. It's an amazing scene. I will never forget this.
11:26 The Badger players are leaving the field from the same place that fans are entering it. This won't be pretty. I just saw a girl get blasted by a Badger player that I won't name, but she's fine. The alcohol has padded her. Some security guy decides to grab one person as a thousand others pass him by. He then lets him go. Nice job, Mr. Security Man.
11:27 Even the old people are climbing down. Won't somebody please think about their hips!?! They're gonna feel this in the morning. “Margaret, my hamstrings are killing me! I didn't even know I still had hamstrings.” “You think that's bad? I left my dentures on the goal post!”
11:28 This is amazing.
11:29 I am in awe. I can't imagine a better scene in college football.
11:30 I assume these painful losses are now old hat for Wisconsin, so that's gotta be comforting for them. Time to head to the Badger postgame and see how easy these losses are getting to handle.
11:39 Bret Bielema just said “Unfortunately, we scored too fast.” Uh huh huh huh huh. Huh huh huh huh.
11:44 Bielema: “We always believe everything happens for a reason, but these things are just so overwhelmingly negative.” Yes they are. Maybe you should think about that.
11:58 This one is going to stick with me for a while. I didn't want to leave the field, but it got pretty cold, so that made it easier.
12:00 And now, whether you want to believe it or not, the Buckeyes might actually be the favorite to win the Big Ten, and that's probably more amazing than Braxton Miller's touchdown pass to Devin Smith, which is still unbelievable.
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