Loss of Bryant Mares Win over Badgers

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Last updated: 09/29/2013 3:52 PM
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Loss of Bryant Mars Win over Badgers
By Rob Ogden

While the Buckeyes celebrated the return of one captain in victorious fashion, the loss of another left them devastated.
Braxton Miller
Photo by Jim Davidson
Braxton Miller

Playing for the first time since injuring his knee during Ohio State's Sept.  7 win against San Diego State, quarterback Braxton Miller led the Buckeyes to a 31-24 win over Wisconsin on Saturday. The victory didn't come without a price, however, as senior safety Christian Bryant broke his ankle, and is likely done for the season.

"Just tough news, that's the hardest part of this whole job," a visibly upset Urban Meyer said regarding the loss of Bryant. "I loved that guy. Doggone it. Hard part of the game."

Bryant was injured on the defense's penultimate play of the game, as the Badgers attempted to tie the score.

Christian Bryant is helped to his feet after suffering a season-ending ankle injury as the Wisconsin game was ending.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Christian Bryant

A play later, Wisconsin turned the ball over on downs when quarterback Joel Stave's desperation pass fell incomplete.

In a game billed as a battle of the trenches, Stave was surprisingly effective through the air, completing 20-of-34 passing attempts for 295 yards and two touchdowns.

His favorite target, receiver Jared Abbrederis, torched the Buckeyes' secondary for 207 yards and one touchdown on 10 receptions.

Running backs Melvin Gordon and James White combined for only 104 yards rushing - by far their lowest output of the season. The Badgers came into the night averaging 350 yards on the ground per game. 

Stave finished with 295 yards through the air, compared to 198 passing yards for Miller, a stat that caught some of the Buckeye defenders off guard.

Curtis Grant
Photo by Dan Harker
Curtis Grant

"It was surprising because I thought they were gonna come out here and try to run it down our throats," linebacker Curtis Grant said. "They threw it around a little bit and were able to make a few plays."

But the Buckeyes made more of them.

In his first real action since Aug. 31, Miller completed 17-of-25 attempts and threw four touchdown passes, one of which was a 40-yard pass to a wide-open Corey Brown with seconds remaining in the first half.

"I felt good out there," Miller said. "My legs felt good engery-wise, I wasn't out of shape, so it felt good."

Miller's legs were tested often, as the the junior ran 22 times for 98 yards. He was the game's leading rusher.

During the second half, Miller surpassed Cornelius Greene to become Ohio State's all-time leading rusher among quarterbacks.

Miller said he was at first a little hesitant to test his knee, but got into a groove as the game wore on. He wore a brace, but only as a precaution, he said.

"It's 100 percent," Miller said. "I was taking care of my body. Conditioned all the time. It felt really good."

Wisconsin's defense hadn't given up a passing touchdown all season, but Ohio State receiver Evan Spencer promised last week that that stat wouldn't last much longer. He was right.

Four plays into the Buckeyes' opening series, Miller found Spencer in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown pass.

For the first time all season, Miller and Carlos Hyde were on the field at the same time. Hyde got the start at running back and carried the ball 17 times for 85 yards.

Wisconsin answered with Abbrederis' touchdown two drives later, but squandered too many opportunities to ever make the Buckeyes sweat in the end.

"At the end of the day we gave them too many layups," Wisconsin coach Gary Anderson said. "We didn't make them shoot enough jump shots and three-pointers. You can't do that. They took advantage of it. Complete credit to Ohio State."

After the game, much of the Buckeyes' focus was on Bryant.

"That's huge. That's my partner," safety C.J. Barnett said. "It's bittersweet. We got this win but he went down. We'll have to pick it up. His leadership will be missed."

Backups Corey Brown, Ron Tanner and Vonn Bell will likely see an increased role in Bryant's absence.

"It's tough," co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said. "He's come a long way as a player and a person, but we can't hang our heads. We've got to keep going."

With the win, the Buckeyes stretched their nation-long winning streak to 17 games, and took a stranglehold on the Leaders Division.

"It's a great win," linebacker Joshua Perry said. "It gives us a lot of momentum going into next week. We have another ranked opponent. Having a win like this is a great way to enter a week of preparation."

Box Score and Game Stats

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