Meltdown In Madison: Buckeyes Dominated From The Start In 31-18 Loss to Wisconsin

Buckeyes never recovered from opening kickoff returned for touchdown

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Wisconsin Beats Buckeyes 31-18

David Gilreath returned the game’s opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown and John Clay went over the century mark in rushing and had two scores, as 18th-ranked Wisconsin sent No. 1 Ohio State to a 31-18 defeat before a rowdy crowd at Camp Randall Stadium.

The Badgers (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) built a three-touchdown lead before watching the Buckeyes get within three points early in the fourth quarter. James White stemmed the tide with a 12-yard scoring run and Wisconsin held on to send the No. 1 team to a loss for the second straight week. Last Saturday, South Carolina pulled off its first ever win over a top-ranked team with a 35-21 triumph over Alabama.

Now begs the question, which team will be No. 1 come Sunday? Oregon should move into that role, although the Ducks were idle this weekend. Boise State, the No. 3 team, was dominating San Jose State Saturday night.

It’s the first time Wisconsin has knocked off the top-ranked team in the country since September 12, 1981, when the Badgers topped Michigan in Madison. Wisconsin had lost its last four games against top-ranked clubs and is just 4-16 all-time in such contests. One of those was a win over the Buckeyes in 1942.

Scott Tolzien completed 13-of-16 passes for 152 yards and was intercepted once for Wisconsin, while Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor ended 14-of-28 for 156 yards and a pick.

Dan Herron rushed for a pair of touchdowns for Ohio State (6-1, 2-1), which was riding a 12-game winning streak going back to last season. This was the Buckeyes’ fifth Big Ten loss in their last 44 such games.

Blake Sorensen thwarted an Ohio State drive late in the fourth by intercepting Pryor. Right after the clock wound down, fans rushed the field to celebrate with the Badgers.

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Five for Wisconsin: What You Need to Know as the Buckeyes Take on the Badgers

1. Terrelle Pryor's Health.  Pryor's quad was still sore last weekend against Indiana, but the junior signal-caller has said that it is "a lot better" this week. Pryor was excellent passing the ball against the Hoosiers, going 24/30 (80%) for a career high 334 yards, but he only ran the ball three times. The Badger defense is far more talented than Indiana, and it's a good bet that Pryor's legs will need to come into play at some point in the game. It's clear that the quad strain is not affecting his passing ability, but it is still unclear how, or if, it will affect his mobility.

 2. General Health. Besides Pryor, Ohio State is dealing with multiple issues along the offensive line, including an attack from the flu bug upon starting left tackle Mike Adams. Adams missed at least one practice this week while recuperating from the effects of the virus, and his situation is one to monitor early in the game.

On the other side of the line, starting right tackle J.B. Shugarts has missed multiple days of practice this week with a recurring foot injury. It's the same issue that forced him out of the game against Indiana last weekend, which put true freshman Andrew Norwell under the gun as the replacement right tackle. If Shugarts can't play on Saturday, Ohio State will be starting a flu-ridden left tackle and true freshman rights tackle in Camp Randall.

It's not all bad news, though. Tight end Jake Stoneburner  is set to return after missing the last two games with an ankle injury.

3.  Andrew Sweat. The first year starter at strongside linebacker has only played parts of the first two Big Ten games because of substitutions. Both Illinois and Indiana used multiple receiver sets, and Sweat is swapped out on those downs for the player at the "Star" position (Tyler Moeller before his injury; Christian Bryant now.)Wisconsin's favored style of multiple tight ends and backs will require Andrew Sweat to play the majority of snaps this weekend. Sweat has had a nondescript year so far, neither obviously struggling nor obviously making an impact. This will be Sweat's greatest test yet, and he will play a starring role in this game. As the strongside linebacker, he will have the tough task of covering Wisconsin's tight ends while providing a physical presence in run support.

4. Camp Randall at Night. Wisconsin is 25-3 in night games at Camp Randall since the 1995-96 season. One of those losses, however, came at the hands of Terrelle Pryor in 2008. The then true freshman led a game-winning drive in the last seconds of the contest, scoring on a speed option keeper. Pryor must maintain that composure tomorrow when the belligerent Wisconsin fans make their presence known.  

5. Special Teams. Makin their return to this list once again, special teams will play a pivotal role in this game, although maybe not from the perspective you first thought. Ohio State actually holds the special teams edge in this game, with Wisconsin having the 90th ranked kickoff coverage units in the country and the 114th ranked punt coverage units. Look for Jordan Hall or Jaamal Berry to break a long return in this game.

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