A defensive struggle turned into an offensive outburst in Columbus on Saturday night with the Ohio St. Buckeyes giving up a late lead only to rally to beat the No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers 33-29 at the Horseshoe. Braxton Miller connected with Devin Smith on a 40-yard touchdown with just 20 seconds remaining to give the Buckeyes the win. It was the second last-second defeat in a row after losing to Michigan State 37-31 on the final play last week.
The Buckeyes and the Badgers combined for 31 points over the first three quarters before the teams combined to score four touchdowns in the final 4:39.
Miller, the Buckeyes freshman quarterback, ran for 99 yards on 19 carries and scored twice, in addition to completing 7 of 12 passes for 89 yards and a score.
Fickell said that before Miller went onto the field for the last possession, the quarterback turned to the coach and winked.
"I felt good about it. That's what you need," Fickell said. "You've got to have confidence in what you're doing. You have to have belief in what you're doing."
Ohio State had just 89 yards passing - 40 came on the final touchdown - but racked up 268 yards on the ground led by Dan Herron's 160 yards on 33 carries.
Ohio State seemingly took control of the game in the 3rd quarter when Jordan Hall ran in from 2 yards to give the Buckeyes a 17-7 lead. Wisconsin got back into the game after a Buckeyes fumble gave the Badgers a short field. Montee Bell scored from a yard out to make the score 17-14 and the teams were set for the furious final quarter.
Leading 20-14, Miller raced left on a 3rd and 2 and went untouched into the end-zone for a 26-14 lead with 4:30 to go. Wisconsin came right back, however, needing just 44 seconds to cut the led to 26-21. After forcing a three-and-out from Ohio State, Wisconsin went 68 yards in four plays, with Badgers quarterback Russell Wilson finding Jared Abbrederis all along for a 49-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion gave the Badgers a 29-26 lead with 1:18 remaining.
That left Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes too much time. Ohio State came right back, taking over at their own 48 after a 42-yard kickoff return by Hall.
They picked up 12 yards on three plays before Miller took the snap on first down at the Wisconsin 40 with 30 seconds left. He floated right to avoid a rush, barely sidestepped a potential tackle and suddenly noticed Smith wide open in the end zone. Miller stopped and looped the ball to Smith who caught it just before two defenders closed on him.
"Obviously, it's another heartbreaking loss," Badgers coach Bret Bielema said.