Oct. 30, 2011

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller found classmate Devin Smith wide open for a game-winning 40-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds left to give Ohio State a thrilling 33-29 Homecoming upset of No. 11/12 Wisconsin Saturday night in front of 105,511 at Ohio Stadium.

It was an exciting finish to a game that featured 31 fourth quarter points and an extraordinary rally by the Badgers (7-2, 2-2 Big Ten) in the final minutes. With the win, the Buckeyes (5-3, 2-2 Big Ten) vaulted themselves back into the race in the Big Ten Leaders Division.

“This is what Ohio State is about,” Luke Fickell, Ohio State head coach, said after the game. “This is a huge win, a signature win for this team. This will give us some confidence and momentum heading into the final weeks of the season.”

Miller finished the game with 188 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns — 89 yards through the air and 99 on the ground – as three different Buckeyes found the endzone. The Buckeye defense rose to the occasion as well, holding Wisconsin to 342 total yards, 169 below its season average.

Wisconsin opened up a 7-0 lead on its second possession of the night. Facing third and 8 at the OSU 22, Russell Wilson found Montee Ball out of the backfield for a TD to cap an eight-play, 69-yard drive. Christian Bryant nearly came up with an interception on the play for Ohio State, but the sophomore safety mistimed his jump on the pass allowing Ball to run into the endzone untouched.

Ohio State drove into Badger territory twice in the second quarter but came away with only three points. Drew Basil put the Buckeyes on the board at the 2:55 mark of the second quarter, knocking in a 39-yard field goal off the left post.

Dan Herron opened the second half with a bang for Ohio State, dashing 57 yards to the Wisconsin 18 on the first play of the third quarter. Six plays and 18 yards later, Miller faked a handoff and juked past a Badger defender into the endzone on fourth and goal from the 1-yard line for the first rushing TD of his career and a 10-7 Buckeye lead.

A huge play on special teams set up the Buckeyes in prime position on their next offensive possession. Following a Badger three-and-out, Ryan Shazier broke through the Wisconsin line to block Brad Nortman’s punt. Curtis Grant recovered at the 1-yard line and three plays later, Jordan Hall punched the ball in to give Ohio State a 10-point lead at the 9:26 mark of the third quarter.

After holding the Badgers to their second three-and-out of the half, Jordan Hall muffed a punt that Wisconsin’s Jon Budmayr recovered at the OSU 27. Ball converted from 1-yard out six plays later to cut the Buckeye lead to three.

After Basil added his second field goal of the game to extend the Ohio State lead to 20-14 with 10:39 to play, the Silver Bullets stepped up. With Wisconsin facing a fourth and 2 at the OSU 38, Andrew Sweat and Etienne Sabino combined on a tackle that left the Badgers a yard short of the first down. Miller appeared to put the game away on the ensuing offensive possession, converting three third downs – the third a 44-yard TD run – to give the Buckeyes a 26-14 lead with 4:39 to go after an unsuccessful two-point attempt.

Wisconsin refused to go quietly, however, cutting the Buckeye lead to five less than a minute later when Wilson connected with Jared Abbrederis from 17 yards out. Following an OSU three-and-out, Abbrederis struck again, breaking free of the Buckeye coverage for a 49-yard TD that put the Badgers up 29-26 with 1:18 remaining after a successful two-point conversion.

The Badgers had one final attempt to win the game following Miller’s touchdown pass, but Sweat hit Wilson in his throwing motion to send the ball into the ground.