Buckeyes Refuse to Lose in Overtime against Wisconsin
By Brandon Castel
MADISON, Wisc. — Somehow. Some way.
That has become the new motto for Urban Meyer and the 2012 Ohio State Buckeyes, a team that is now just one victory away from perfection. Not as individuals, where they have had their share of struggles, or even as units, which have been up and down throughout a winding first season under Meyer.
But as a team, these Buckeyes are still perfect, with a zero still firmly in that loss column after another dramatic finish, this time a 21-14 victory over Wisconsin – the team that will represent the Leaders Division in Indianapolis – in overtime.
“We have a saying and I just shared that with them, a team that refuses to be beat won’t be beat,” Meyer said after the game.
“Somehow, someway, we played a great defense in a great environment and their offense, to keep that running back somewhat in check, I thought our defense did a fantastic job.”
After leading for almost the entire game in Madison, a place that has not always been kind to the Buckeyes, Ohio State (11-0, 7-0) allowed a game-tying touchdown with just eight seconds on the clock.
The offense had managed just 36 yards on the second half, and a season-low 236 for the game, but Carlos Hyde scored on a two-yard run in the extra period and Christian Bryant batted Curt Phillips’ pass to the ground on fourth down to preserve the victory.
“I can’t tell you our emotion was high, but we rallied them back,” Meyer said.
“That’s the leadership on our team, and our coaches did a good job getting the guys going because we were sucking our thumbs after they scored with eight seconds left.
“But I liked the way the offense just went in and attacked it. Carlos got a big run, Braxton Miller ran like Braxton Miller, we got him in some space and then we pounded it in there.”
For the second time all season, Miller failed to rush for more than 50 yards, despite the fact he carried the football 23 times. He completed 10 of his 18 passes, but his longest was an 18-yard run and catch by Corey Brown. It was the first time all season Miller failed to throw for at least 100 yards.
“They go as number five goes,” Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said.
“He's a tremendous football player with tremendous poise. He's got a lot of ability to throw the ball, run the ball and manage the game. We did want to keep him inside. Some of his better plays were plays that broke against the call.”
The Badgers did as good a job defending Miller and the Ohio State offense as any team has done all year. They managed just one touchdown in regulation, a 15-yard run up the middle by Carlos Hyde on a play where he was never touched, thanks to key blocks by Andrew Norwell and Reid Fragel.
The Buckeyes could have had a touchdown on their first drive of the game, but senior Jake Stoneburner dropped a wide open pass from Miller on a player where it looked like he lost it in the lights at Camp Randall Stadium.
Instead, Ohio State’s first touchdown of the day came on a 69-yard punt return by Corey Brown, who danced right then left before cutting off a block by senior Etienne Sabino on his way to the end zone.
“He was kicking into the wind. I know he was trying to drive the ball,” Bielema said of punt Drew Meyer. “I thought they were trying to set up and edge. They creased it up the middle. I think we had Zoo (Kyle Zuleger) right in his face there, and their guy made a big play.”
It was one the Buckeyes absolutely needed.
They took a 14-0 lead on Hyde’s 15-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, and it looked like the Buckeyes might put the game away early, but it hasn’t been that easy for this team all year, so why start now?
On their very next possession, the Badgers (7-4, 4-3) drove right down the field on Ohio State’s defense, which held their running game in check for most of the day. Armani Reeves made a great tackle on kick coverage, but Wisconsin went 82 yards in eight plays, with Montee Ball jumping over Ryan Shazier for the touchdown.
With it, Ball tied the FBS record for career touchdowns, and it looked like he might break the record midway through the fourth quarter, but this time Shazier saw it coming. With the Buckeyes clinging to a 14-7 lead, Shazier went up and made a hit on Ball as he was diving for the end zone on 4th-and-1. The ball popped loose and landed in the arms of Christian Bryant at the six yard line.
“I watched film all week and I knew he was going to jump,” Shazier said.
“I knew they were going to give their best player the ball on fourth down and I knew he was going to jump. I just decided I was going to meet him there.”
It looked, for a moment, like that stop might seal the victory for Ohio State. Instead, the Buckeyes were forced to punt with 1:33 on the clock. Phillips was sacked by John Simon, who tied the school record with four of them, on first down, but Wisconsin’s gritty 5th-year senior completed his next four passes to set up a 2nd-and-goal at the five with 12 seconds left.
Phillips rolled to his right and found tight end Jacob Pederson right in front of Boren in the end zone. The extra point tied the game, and Wisconsin won the toss in overtime. The Badgers opted to receive, which would prove to be their undoing. Ohio State scored on four plays, all runs, to take a 21-14 lead.
The defense held, as Bryant swatted Phillip’s fourth-down pass to Pederson away to preserve the 11th victory of the season.
“I’m honored to be the coach of an 11-0 Ohio State Buckeye team,” Meyer added. “Especially one that’s very deserving.”
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