NCF Nation: Buckeyes-Badgers-111712


MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin running back Montee Ball's highlight tape of touchdowns might as well be a full-length feature. He entered Saturday with 77, one shy of the FBS all-time record.

Unfortunately for Ball, Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier watched most of the movie in the week leading up to Saturday's game.

"He scores plenty of touchdowns," Shazier said. "I watched film on him, and I saw when he gets around the [1- or 2-yard line], he likes to jump. So once he jumped, I jumped, and I punched the ball out."

Shazier's forced fumble against Ball late in the fourth quarter -- just the second lost fumble in Ball's record-setting career -- ended up not meaning much. Wisconsin scored on its next possession to tie the game before Ohio State went on to win 21-14 in overtime.

But Shazier's play epitomized Ohio State's victory, one fueled by defense with a sprinkle of special teams, thanks to Corey "Philly" Brown.

Braxton Miller won't be on "SportsCenter" tonight, but Shazier should be. So should defensive end John Simon, who tied a career high with four sacks. So should cornerback Bradley Roby, who had to cover two players after a teammate blew an assignment and batted down a sure-fire touchdown catch by Derek Watt.

The silver bullets stood tall at Camp Randall Stadium, helping Ohio State secure a Leaders Division title, maintain a perfect 11-0 record and set up a chance for perfection in The Game next week against Michigan.

"Our offense kind of struggled a little bit, but at the same time, it's a team sport, so the defense, we needed to go out and do our thing," said Roby, who wore a Leaders Division championship T-shirt. "Defense wins championships. We thrive on that."

[+] EnlargeRyan Shazier
AP Photo/Andy Manis)Ryan Shazier and the Ohio State defense wrapped up Montee Ball when it counted.
Added defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins: "Being here at Ohio State, the defense always carries this team."

Wisconsin (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten) moved the ball better than Ohio State, outgaining the Buckeyes 360-236. The Badgers reached Buckeyes territory on four drives and started two others in plus territory. Ball had 191 rushing yards on 39 carries, while quarterback Curt Phillips passed the ball much more than he did the previous week with some success (14-for-25 passing).

But Ohio State allowed just 14 points.

"That's where it hurts the most," Ball said. "We're driving the football down the field, driving down the field, and we still fall short."

Ball tied Travis Prentice's Football Bowl Subdivision record midway through the second quarter and appeared ready to break it as Wisconsin reached the Buckeyes' 3-yard line with 3:44 remaining. Thanks to Shazier, Ball remains stuck on 77.

"We knew that he needed two to break the record, and we were not going to allow him to break it on us," Shazier said.

First-year coach Urban Meyer often tells his players, a team that refuses to be beat won't be beat. Ohio State at times has looked like a team that would be beat. It looked that way for stretches of the Big Ten opener against Michigan State. It looked that way for much of an Oct. 20 game against Purdue before surviving in overtime without Miller.

It even looked that way after Wisconsin forced overtime when Phillips found Jacob Pedersen in the end zone with eight seconds left in regulation.

"We were sucking our thumbs after that," Meyer said.

But once again, Ohio State made the plays it had to. Running back Carlos Hyde, who had just 13 carries in regulation, broke a tackle and ran 11 yards on the first play of overtime. Three plays later, he scooted easily into the end zone.

The defense then took over. Linebacker Etienne Sabino, playing for the first time since suffering a broken leg in the Big Ten opener against Nebraska, dropped Ball for a loss of 2 yards. Safety Christian Bryant, who recovered Ball's fumble in the fourth quarter, broke up a pass on fourth down to end it.

"We can't be beat," Hankins said. "We're not settling for a loss. We want to go undefeated, and that's our goal."

Shazier called Camp Randall Stadium a "gladiator-type atmosphere," as Wisconsin fans tried boost Ball and the other seniors to a win that would have further validated the Badgers' spot in the Big Ten title game Dec. 1. Instead, the Buckeyes were the bad guys again, sweeping their Big Ten road schedule -- a hallmark of Jim Tressel's best teams and Meyer's first.

"You go into someone else's home, in front of their fans, their moms, their girlfriends, and you just want to dominate them," Roby said. "What's better than that? Going into somebody else's house and taking everything they have. You see that when we play away games. We play way better than we do at home."

Ohio State will have to be good at home to preserve perfection. The season ends next Saturday no matter what for a Buckeyes team that, while flawed, has managed to walk off the field a winner 11 times.

Michigan comes in with an outside chance to reach the Big Ten title game and a definite chance to ruin the Buckeyes' quest for 12-0.

"We can talk about it now," Meyer said.

The Game is here. A chance for Ohio State's sixth-ever undefeated, untied season is at stake.

Buckle up.

"[Wisconsin] is not our rival," Meyer said. "The next one is."

MADISON, Wis. -- Braxton Miller has carried Ohio State most of the season. The defense did the honors Saturday in holding off Wisconsin 21-14 in overtime to preserve a perfect record.

It was over when: Ohio State safety Christian Bryant broke up a fourth-down pass to Jacob Pedersen in overtime. The Buckeyes had taken the lead on a 2-yard Carlos Hyde touchdown run moments earlier.

Game ball goes to: Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier and Ohio State DE John Simon. Shazier continued to sizzle during Big Ten play with 12 tackles, including three for loss and a forced fumble that appeared to seal the win. Simon (four sacks) also had his best game of the season as Ohio State repeatedly turned away the Badgers.

Stat of the game: Wisconsin outgained Ohio State 360-236 but kept stalling in Buckeyes territory. The Badgers had seven drives in regulation either start in or reach Ohio State territory but ended up with only 14 points. Their only drive in overtime ended after four plays.

What it means: Ohio State wins the Leaders Division title -- the only championship it could win with the postseason ban -- and maintains its quest for perfection heading into the Michigan game. Wisconsin drops its second consecutive home game for the first time since the 2008 season after having a 21-game win streak snapped Oct. 27 against Michigan State.

Second guessing: Wisconsin went conservative several times on third down in Ohio State territory, once at the end of the second half and again at the end of the third quarter. Curt Phillips had some success passing the ball, but offensive coordinator Matt Canada stuck with the run despite long-yardage situations, and the Badgers couldn't get into the end zone.

Unsung hero: After saying this week that he hated Wisconsin as much as Michigan, Ohio State WR Corey "Philly" Brown backed it up. Brown provided one of two Ohio State touchdowns in regulation with a 68-yard punt return and had four receptions for 48 yards in the win.
Wisconsin junior linebacker Chris Borland will miss today's game against Ohio State because of a hamstring injury.

Borland sustained the injury last week against Indiana. He had planned to test out the leg in warmups but isn't dressed for the game. Conor O'Neill will get the start at outside linebacker alongside senior Mike Taylor, while Ethan Armstrong slides inside for the Badgers.

The hope is Borland returns in time for the Big Ten title game Dec. 1. He ranks in the top 11 in the Big Ten in tackles (82), sacks (4.5), tackles for loss (9) and forced fumbles (3). Big loss for the Badgers.
MADISON, Wis. -- Greetings from America's dairyland, where today Ohio State puts its perfect record on the line against Wisconsin.

Coming off of an open week, the Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) can clinch the Leaders Division title with a win. Wisconsin, meanwhile, will represent the division Dec. 1 at the Big Ten championship in Indianapolis. The Badgers can earn a share of the division title by winning out and having Ohio State lose next week to Michigan.

Wisconsin (7-3, 4-2) hasn't dropped consecutive home games since the 2008 season, and had its 21-game win streak at Camp Randall Stadium stopped by Michigan State on Oct. 27. It's senior day, and among those being honored is running back Montee Ball, who needs two touchdowns -- of any kind -- to become the NCAA's all-time leader. Ball needs one rushing touchdown to eclipse former Badgers star Ron Dayne for the Big Ten rushing touchdowns record. Ball has been fabulous at this time of year, averaging nearly 180 rush yards and three touchdowns in his past nine November games.

Curt Phillips makes his second start on offense after doing a nice job despite limited passing last week against Indiana. The senior likely will need to put the ball in the air more than seven times today.

Ohio State regains a big piece of its linebacking corps in senior Etienne Sabino, out since suffering a broken leg Oct. 6. Wisconsin, meanwhile, might be without its top defensive playmaker in linebacker Chris Borland (hamstring). Borland will test his hamstring in pregame warm-ups.

Although The Game always will mean more to Ohio State, the Wisconsin rivalry has been growing and could be a more significant game in most seasons because the teams are in the same division. This week, Ohio State wide receiver Corey Brown told reporters, "I hate Wisconsin just as much as Michigan." While coaches Bret Bielema and Urban Meyer downplayed their post-signing day flap, if either man gets the chance to tack on a few points, I think he will.

Weather should be great. Sunny skies, temperatures in the mid to high 40s and winds at 7-10 mph.

Check back for continued coverage of the Badgers and Buckeyes throughout the day.

Video: Ohio State-Wisconsin pregame

November, 17, 2012
11/17/12
1:30
PM ET

Ohio State puts its perfect record on the line against Wisconsin and running back Montee Ball, who eyes the NCAA career touchdowns record.

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