Friday, December 13, 2002
No. 7 Ohio State 23, No. 22 Wisconsin 7
MADISON, Wis. -- Derek Combs gave the free-falling Wisconsin Badgers yet another footwear nightmare.
Combs ran for two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder without his right shoe, as seventh-ranked Ohio State beat the Badgers 23-7 on Saturday.
The No. 22 Badgers (3-3), whose season of national championship aspirations began to unravel last month when the NCAA suspended 26 players for receiving unadvertised shoe discounts, fell to 0-3 in the Big Ten for the first time since 1996.
The Buckeyes (5-0, 2-0) had 14 tackles for loss, including eight sacks, in avenging last year's 42-17 loss at Columbus that sent them spiraling toward their worst season in 12 years.
When it was over, about 20 Buckeyes danced on the Badgers' "W" at midfield.
Combs, who played sparingly in the second half after he apparently turned an ankle, got things going with an 80-yard dash for the end zone when he slipped two tackles at the line in the first quarter.
His right shoe was ripped away as he emerged from the pile and he darted the last 78 yards without it.
Nobody even got a hand on him on his second TD run, when he followed a block by fullback Jamar Martin for a 21-yard score that made it 13-0.
The Buckeyes gained 174 yards on their first seven snaps, an average of nearly 25 yards a play.
They were driving again in Badgers' territory on their third possession when Jamar Fletcher tied a school record with his 18th career interception, stopping Ohio State at the Wisconsin 33.
But the Badgers, behind struggling sophomore quarterback Brooks Bollinger, punted on their first five possessions. On their sixth, Nate Clements picked off Bollinger at the Buckeyes' 12.
Late in the first half, Ohio State's Tim Cheatwood blocked Vitaly Pisetsky's 52-yard field-goal attempt and the Badgers inexplicably began walking off the field. Clements picked up the live ball and darted 25 yards before being brought down at his own 39.
Quarterback Steve Bellisari then reeled off a 30-yard run on first down, juking free safety Jason Doering 15 yards downfield. That set up his 20-yard TD pass to Darnell Sanders that made it 20-0 at halftime.
Nobody was within 15 yards of Sanders because linebacker Roger Knight bit on Bellisari's fake handoff.
Michael Bennett bounced off the pile and darted 35 yards for a touchdown on fourth-and-1 to pull Wisconsin to 20-7 in the third quarter.
Bennett, the nation's leading rusher, carried 20 times for 106 yards, 102 yards shy of his average. He needed 60 more yards to become the ninth rusher in NCAA history to reach 1,000 by his fifth game.
Dan Stultz, who missed an extra point in the first half and had trouble punting in the swirling winds at Camp Randall Stadium, made it 23-7 with a 24-yard field goal with 2:32 left in the third quarter.
Bollinger drove the Badgers into Ohio State territory again, but Matt Wilhelm recovered one of Bollinger's three fumbles at the Buckeyes' 25.
The Badgers lost to starters to sprained right knees, star defensive end John Favret and center Al Johnson.
|Derek Combs breaks away from Wisconsin's Jeff Mack for an 80-yard touchdown run.|