(Saturday, October 10th)
Final Score: (9) Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 13
Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - Kurt Coleman and Jermale Hines each returned an interception for a touchdown, as ninth-ranked Ohio State used defense and special teams to take a 31-13 win over Wisconsin, handing the Badgers their first loss.
Ray Small scored on a 96-yard kickoff return for the Buckeyes (5-1, 3-0 Big Ten), who have won four in a row since losing to Southern California on September 12.
Ohio State took the victory despite its offense gaining just 184 yards. Terrelle Pryor passed for 87 yards and a score on 5-of-13 throws, with one interception. Pryor also ran for 35 yards, while DeVier Posey caught two passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.
The Buckeyes' defense recorded six sacks and made the most of prime opportunities against Wisconsin (5-1, 2-1), which entered the game as the conference's top-scoring team with 35 points per game. But the Badgers couldn't find the end zone often despite gaining 368 yards and holding the ball for nearly 43 minutes.
Scott Tolzien completed 27-of-45 passes for 250 yards for Wisconsin, which has lost three in a row to Ohio State.
"This is disappointing for our guys. We felt good coming in and we really didn't get things done in the second half," Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said. "Any time you give Ohio State points without their offense being on the field you're going to have problems."
The Buckeyes won last year's matchup, 20-17, after Pryor scored with a little over a minute to play. But Ohio State needed no such late heroics Saturday, as the team took the lead for good late in the first half.
Taking over at their own 12 with under two minutes left in the second quarter, the Buckeyes got a 27-yard run from Pryor on the series' first play. Pryor later completed a 22-yard pass to Posey to bring the ball to the Wisconsin 27.
After Ohio State was assessed a five-yard penalty, the drive seemed to stall, as Pryor had a pair of incompletions. But on 3rd-and-15, Pryor heaved a pass down the right side of the field for Posey, who twisted his body around to make the 32-yard touchdown catch. The score, coming with 40 seconds on the clock, gave Ohio State a 14-10 lead at the break.
"We knew we needed to get a touchdown when the score was 10-7," Posey said. "Coach told us that we were going to get a touchdown, so we pulled together as an offense and got it done."
The Badgers started the third quarter with the ball but got stuck in their own territory because of a holding penalty. On 2nd-and-17, Hines tipped Tolzien's pass in the air with his right hand, then grabbed the ball and ran it back 32 yards for the score and a 21-10 Buckeyes advantage.
"There was pressure, but both were poor decisions that I have to learn from," Tolzien said of his interceptions. "They were too close to call and I should not have thrown the ball."
Philip Welch connected on a 46-yard field goal on the ensuing Wisconsin drive, but Small struck moments later. He found an open hole near the left hashmark shortly after receiving the kickoff, then headed diagonally toward the center to avoid several tacklers. Once he was beyond them, Small turned upfield and sprinted to the end zone to give the Buckeyes a 28-13 lead with 10:06 on the clock.
"It was almost like he was shot out of a gun," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. "I saw him take that thing and he downshifted and he was gone."
The Badgers moved the ball 79 yards on their next series, but it ended in a missed 33-yarder by Welch. Ohio State took over and advanced 60 yards in a nine-play drive that bridged into the fourth quarter and ended with Aaron Pettrey's 37-yard field goal.
Ohio State held on for the remaining 12 1/2 minutes, thwarting one more Wisconsin scoring chance. The Badgers had a first-and-goal at the Buckeyes' eight, but Tolzien was sacked twice and threw incomplete on fourth down.
Coleman got the Buckeyes on the board first, as his 89-yard return after picking off Tolzien made it a 7-0 game with 3:48 left in the opening quarter.
"I was tip-toeing down the line there for a second," Coleman said. "I thought for sure I'd step out of bounds. Had to put on my dancing shoes."
The Badgers tied the game after Culmer St. Jean intercepted Pryor deep in Ohio State territory early in the second quarter, setting them up at the 12. Wisconsin was pushed to a fourth down, but Chris Maragos ran it in from the nine.
Welch drilled a 50-yarder with 1:53 left in the half to give the Badgers a 10-7 edge.
Ohio State leads the all-time series 53-17-5, including a 28-7-3 mark at home. The Badgers' last win came in 2004 in Columbus...Brandon Saine had 55 yards on the ground to lead Ohio State...John Clay ran for a team-high 59 yards on 20 carries for Wisconsin, while Isaac Anderson caught six passes for 53 yards...The Badgers held the ball for 42:47, including 13:20 in the third quarter.
10/10 20:40:19 ET