Ohio State remembers UW’s midfield dance
After Wisconsin beat Ohio State 24-13 three years ago, a Badgers linebacker danced on the big Block O that straddles the 50-yard line at Ohio Stadium, touching off a bunch of pushing, taunting and shoving between the teams.
Buckeyes fans were aghast.
Ohio State has not forgotten. Neither, apparently, has Wisconsin.
“We had a little postgame situation because Dontez (Sanders) felt the need to dance around on the O,” said Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema, who was the Badgers’ defensive coordinator in ’03. “We obviously discourage that behavior.
“Tez called me this (week) and he wanted, I think, 32 tickets. He’s now a high school coach in Ohio. So we’ll keep Tez away from our guys.”
Bielema laughed long and hard. Sanders’ action might have angered Ohio State, but it underscores how Wisconsin has owned the Buckeyes on their home turf. The Badgers have won their last three games at the Horseshoe.
Ohio State and Wisconsin meet again today, with the Buckeyes No. 1 in the nation and the Badgers trying to groom themselves for bowl representatives.
Maybe it’s because Ohio State has won its last 19 Big Ten games, tying the record. Maybe it’s because the Buckeyes haven’t had many close games this season. For whatever reason, they’ve latched onto Sanders’ defiant act for motivation and vowed to avenge it.
“My freshman year they came in here, danced on the Block O a little bit, got out with a victory,” Ohio State captain and fullback Dionte Johnson said. “You kind of want to get back at them for that.”
To put the Badgers’ recent domination—3-0 in Columbus since 1999—into perspective, Minnesota has won three games in Ohio Stadium in the last 67 years. You’d have to go back 60 years to find three Indiana wins, 48 for Iowa, 44 for Penn State and even 14 years for Michigan’s last three wins at the old concrete structure on the banks of the Olentangy.
No one knows exactly why the Badgers seem to have the Buckeyes’ number at home.
“A good team is a nemesis,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. “It’s tough to beat good teams.”
n In 1999, Ohio State led 17-0 and then watched as Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne rumbled for four second-half touchdowns in the Badgers’ stunning 42-17 upset of the 12th-ranked Buckeyes.
“Guys, it’s been a long time since we’ve been physically whipped like that in a game,” Ohio State coach John Cooper said back then.
n In 2001, Wisconsin spotted No. 21 Ohio State a 17-0 lead again, and then came back to win 20-17 on Mark Neuser’s 33-yard field goal with 2:13 remaining.
n Finally in 2004, the 18th-ranked Buckeyes held a 10-0 lead and appeared headed for their 19th straight home victory before Anthony Davis slashed for 168 yards and a touchdown to lead No. 15 Wisconsin to a 24-13 win.
No opponent has won four in a row at Ohio Stadium since Illinois did it from 1988-94.