Ohio State overcomes late scare to defeat Badgers 38-17
COLUMBUS, Ohio - No Block O shuffle for Wisconsin today. Nope, today it was the Buckeyes dancing their way to its biggest win of the season as they came from behind to defeat the Badgers 38-17 Saturday afternoon.
Ohio State overcame its toughest challenge of the season behind the play of tailback Chris Wells and quarterback Todd Boeckman. Down 17-10 late in the third quarter, Wells broke off touchdown runs of 31 and 30 yards on consecutive drives to pull his Buckeyes ahead 24-17. Boeckman than added a touchdown pass two drives later to move ahead comfortably 31-17. And just for good measure, Wells punched in his third touchdown of the contest on a 23-yard sprint to the endzone to seal the 38-17 victory.
"We knew it would be a battle and it was just that," said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. “Anything that came our way in terms of adversity our guys handled. We are awfully proud of the way we got after it. I don’t know if it was our greatest performance, but we ended up winning and we have a chance to fight another round.”
Wisconsin quarterback Tyler Donovan had a strong first half performance to keep the Badgers close, as he constantly picked apart the Buckeye secondary. He finished the game 17-of-29 for 239 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Boeckman, meanwhile, completed 17-of-28 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns as well.
Both defenses were solid most of the game until the Buckeyes broke it open late in the third quarter. The No. 1 ranked Ohio State defense finished with 10 sacks, four of which were by Vernon Gholston, and hauled in a pair of loose fumbles.
Entering this game, many critics were wondering what the young Buckeyes' response would be if they ever faced a high-pressured moment. After all, in their previous nine games, they absolutely dominated their opponents in nearly every game. Well, they answered - again, and again, and again.
Just when it looked like all hope was lost, the Buckeyes answered Wisconsin's call when it needed to the most by throwing up a pair of touchdown on two consecutive drives late in the game. The Badgers managed to do something no team had done all season: exploit Ohio State's No. 1 rated defense. Donovan turned in one of the best performances of his career, but no one proved to be more clutch then Beanie Wells.
This win should leave no doubt in the minds of experts across the country as to wether or not the Buckeyes deserve to be in the title game should the win out. This Wisconsin team played like the No. 5 team in the nation that it began the season ranked as, at least up until late in the fourth quarter. Following Well's back-to-back TD runs, the air seemed to be sucked out of the Badgers' sails as they produced the game's first turnover.
Player of the Game:
Beanie Wells & Vernon Gholston
Wells: 21 carries for 168 yards, 3 TDs
Gholston: 4 sacks
Sorry folks, I'm going to have to give two game balls out after this game. There were two performances worthy of recognition. Perhaps the most clutch player in the Big Ten, Beanie proved time and time again today why he is so special. He reeled of two straight 30-plus yard touchdown runs on consecutive drives and tipped the see-saw battle back to the Buckeye's side. Gholston on the otherhand, absolutely dominated on the defensive side of the ball. He was constantly reeking terror in the backfield as he recorded four of his teams 10 sacks.
Play of the Game:
After having just tied the game at 17-17 on a 31-yard scamper in the previous drive, Wells responded with another huge run early in the fourth quarter. His 30-yard touchdown run gave the Buckeyes a 24-17 lead they never looked back from and propelled Ohio State to its Big Ten record of 20 conference wins in a row.
Ohio State - 11/10 vs Illinois 3:30 p.m.
Wisconsin - 11/10 vs Michigan noon