Saturday, October 16, 2010

BADGERS BEAT UP TOP RANKED BUCKEYES, 31-18, IN MADISON

Wisconsin wide receiver David Gilreath (85) returns the opening kickoff for a touchdown in the Badgers 31-18 victory over No. 1 Ohio State on Saturday night. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin didn't use gadget plays to win and they didn't rely on smoke and mirrors, they just came out in front of the 81,194 fans at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday night and smacked the No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes in the mouth — over and over and over again.

The No. 16 Badgers (6-1, 2-1) used a punishing running attack — led by junior tailback John Clay and a physical offensive line — to take down the top ranked Buckeyes, 31-18, making it the second consecutive week the No. 1 team in the country has fallen to defeat.

Clay gashed the Buckeyes for 104 yards and two touchdowns in the upset victory on 21 carries (5.0 avg.), while freshman tailback James White added 75 yards and a touchdown on 17 totes in the win. The Badgers finished with 185 yards on the ground as a team, completely dominating the Buckeyes defense for most of the night.

"They are great," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said of Wisconsin's backfield duo. "They're a great tempo change, with the power guy (Clay) and then the quickness with White. We were saying that the whole week while preparing that they're a great 1-2 punch.

"They've always got a great 1-2 punch at Wisconsin, you just change the jersey numbers and the names."

Clay became the first player to rush for over 100 yards against Ohio State since 2008, when Southern California tailback Joe McKnight went for 105 in the Trojans 35-3 win over the Buckeyes in Los Angeles. The Badgers 31 points is also the most against the Buckeyes since that game at USC two seasons ago.

After falling behind 21-0 on Saturday night, the Buckeyes offense would come alive, scoring 18 unanswered points by doing to the Badgers what was being done to them early in the game — gashing it on the ground.

(AP Photo/Andy Manis)
Following Dan Herron's 1-yard scoring plunge in the fourth quarter — capping of a 19-play, 94-yard drive — and Terrelle Pryor's two-point conversion pass to tight end Reid Fragel that cut the Badgers lead to within three, Wisconsin would squash any hopes of a Buckeyes comeback by answering with a 10-play, 73-yard touchdown trek, slamming the door shut on Ohio State's night and perhaps their BCS title shot.

"We really talked about playing this thing one play at a time," Tressel said of the comeback attempt. "We had to have some balance. We couldn't sit there saying 'well it's 21-3 and we have to throw every down and catch up on the first play.' We had to methodically catch up.

"I was proud of the way the kids did that. You know, all of a sudden it was 21-18 and it felt like that we had a little bit of momentum. It's hard to have momentum in somebody else's house, but I thought we had a little momentum and then (Wisconsin) delivered."

Saturday night's game was in Wisconsin's favor from the start as senior wide receiver David Gilreath took the opening kickoff 97 yards to paydirt for the early 7-0 lead.

Less than five minutes later, the Badgers lead increased to 14 when Clay rumbled into the end zone from 14 yards out. The demolition by the Badgers wouldn't end there.

After stifling the OSU offense on their second offensive series of the game, the Badgers would march 89 yards on 19 plays for the score — a 1-yard Clay run — munching more than 10 minutes off the game clock in the process.

The Badgers offensive strategy was ran to near perfection in the first half.

"Football is a real game of execution," Tressel said. "It's one thing to talk about football and one thing to draw it on the board, but the real part is execution, and (Wisconsin) executed.

"I never thought anyone would run on us (like they did)."

Defensively, Wisconsin kept the Buckeyes' top offensive threat (Pryor) in check for most of the game, holding him to 156 yards passing on 14 of 28 attempts with no touchdowns and an interception. He also managed just 56 yards on 18 carries in the loss. For the first time all season, Pryor was held without a touchdown.

Ohio State — now 6-1 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten — will fall from the top spot in the rankings, as well as their first place position in the conference.

Tressel said the Buckeyes can't look back at what could have been, and they cannot try to foresee how the rest of the season will fare. He said the Buckeyes must take everything one day at a time.

"We're not thinking about what we're going to do the next five games or whatever," Tressel said. "We're going to go back to work tomorrow and see if we can go undefeated in Tuesday's practice, and go undefeated in Wednesday's practice.

"That's the way we'll approach things."