No. 1 Buckeyes trip and fall at Wisconsin
Ohio State is one and done as No. 1, after Wisconsin bullied the Buckeyes all over the field then celebrated by jumping around on it with a few thousand friends.
John Clay ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns and James White darted in for the clinching score in the fourth quarter as No. 18 Wisconsin took down top-ranked Ohio State 31-18 Saturday night.
For the second week in a row, there will be a new No. 1 in college football, with the Buckeyes (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) falling the way Alabama was beaten last week – on the road and in conference.
Wisconsin hadn’t defeated a No. 1 since 1981, when the Badgers knocked off Michigan 21-14.
”I know this isn’t a bowl game or the national championship game, but I just started crying, man; to just be in a situation like that where nobody expects you to win,” safety Aaron Henry said. ”Nobody really expected us to go out there and win.
”It’s an unbelievable feeling. I wish this night could last forever.”
This one felt like an upset right from the start.
David Gilreath returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown and the Badgers (6-1, 2-1) proceeded to run over the Buckeyes in the first half, taking a 21-3 lead into the break behind Clay and his blockers.
”I challenged our offensive line at the beginning of the week,” Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. ”If we’re going to have success, it starts with you guys.”
Terrelle Pryor, who threw for 156 yards and ran for 56, guided Ohio State on two long scoring drives in the second half and Dan Herron capped them both with touchdowns to cut the Wisconsin lead to 21-18 with 11:38 left in the fourth.
But the Badgers responded with a long touchdown march of their own, then added a field goal and now No. 1 is up for grabs again – just in time for the BCS standings to make their season debut on Sunday.
”We just blew it as a team,” Pryor said. His Heisman Trophy hopes may have taken a beating too, after he went just 14 of 28 passing with an interception.
Next up at No. 1 in the AP Top 25? Maybe, No. 2 Oregon, which was idle this week and has never been top-ranked before. The Ducks must have enjoyed watching the show at rowdy Camp Randall.
Not only did Ohio State lose, so did previously unbeaten No. 5 Nebraska – and the power conference outsiders from No. 3 Boise State and No. 4 TCU now have two fewer bluebloods to block the path to the national championship game.
”We didn’t talk anything about what remains and what’s still out there,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. ”Again, that’s way further down the road than we typically talk about.”
Wisconsin broke a three game-losing streak to the Buckeyes in easily the biggest victory since Bielema took over the program from Barry Alavrez five years ago.
Bielema had been 0-4 against top 10 teams. Now the Rose Bowl is in reach again for the Badgers.
Usually ”Jump Around” time at Wisconsin is between the third and fourth quarters, when the House of Pain tune blares and the stadium shakes.
After beating the Buckeyes, the Badgers gathered on big W at the 50 and bounced, and the fans joined in – pouring onto the field despite pleas from the PA announcer that it wasn’t safe. They all seemed to make it down OK, covering the field with some grabbing a seat on the goal posts.
”At first it wasn’t (scary), but then like five minutes later the whole field was covered and I got trapped, along with some other players, but it was a cool experience,” White said. ”The fans were out there all four quarters, so they deserved to get a chance to celebrate just like us.”
For Ohio State, its national title hopes are in critical condition after a third straight loss as the No. 1 team in the country. The last two came in the 2007 season, to Illinois in the regular season and in the BCS title game to LSU.
That season was also the last time No. 1 in the AP poll lost in consecutive weeks. That crazy ’07 campaign ended with a two-loss national champion. Maybe this national title chase is headed for wild finish, too. Pryor hopes so.
”Hey, you never know. Teams could lose, we could jump them,” he said.
Not if Ohio State plays like it did Saturday night.
The Buckeyes couldn’t overcome Wisconsin’s dominant first half in front of the pumped-up crowd of 81,194.
The Badgers outgained the Buckeyes 197-93 in the first 30 minutes, punishing a defense that hadn’t given up a 100-yard rusher in 29 games. Scott Tolzien was steady, finishing 13 for 16 for 152 yards, and White added 75 rushing.
”I was shocked,” Pryor said, talking about how well Wisconsin moved the ball early.
Even after that terrible first half, though, Ohio State responded to the double-digit deficit much the way Alabama did against South Carolina last week, by surging in the third quarter.
Ohio State’s second drive TD drive spanned the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter. Not even the earthshaking ”Jump Around” rattled the Buckeyes. In fact, many of them joined in on the fun on the sideline, hopping and bopping as the Camp Randall trembled.
The Buckeyes then went about completing the 94-yard drive with Herron running in from the 1. Pryor tossed to Reid Fragel for the 2-point conversion and the deficit was three.
The Badgers didn’t buckle, however, and the Buckeyes’ defense, rated No. 3 in the country coming in, couldn’t come up with a stop.
When White dodged two tacklers and scored from 12 yards out to make it 28-18, it was dance time again.