Badgers fall to Buckeyes 31-13
Kurt Coleman and Jermale Hines returned interceptions for touchdowns and Ray Small brought a kickoff back 96 yards on Saturday to lead the Buckeyes past Wisconsin 31-13, dealing the self-destructive Badgers their first loss of the season.
Coleman, playing his first game since a Big Ten-mandated suspension for a late hit, was the only person near Scott Tolzien's pass in the first quarter and returned it 89 yards. After Wisconsin (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten) made it 14-10 early in the third quarter, the Buckeyes (5-1, 3-0) padded their lead when Hines tipped a pass, pulled it in and followed a glut of blockers on a 32-yard return.
The Badgers countered with a field goal, but Small brought back the next kickoff.
Wisconsin had won on its last two trips to Ohio Stadium. But the Badgers' mistakes led to their undoing this time.
They dominated the statistics, leading in first downs 22-8 and total offense 368-184, but the three big returns spelled the difference.
Tolzien, intercepted just three times on 125 attempts in Wisconsin's first five games, completed 27 of 45 passes for 250 yards but threw the two costly picks.
Meanwhile, Ohio State's offense — and quarterback Terrelle Pryor in particular — was erratic at best. Really, the Buckeyes didn't have the ball much and didn't have to do much with it when they did.
Wisconsin had the ball 42:47 to 17:13. The Buckeyes had the ball for less than 2 minutes in the third quarter alone, yet outscored the Badgers 14-3.
The Badgers tied it at 7 on a fake field goal, with holder Chris Maragos running around left end and then stretching the ball out with his right arm to touch the pylon on a 9-yard TD run midway through the second quarter.
Pryor, who finished 5 of 13 passing for 87 yards with one interception, looked completely confused by Wisconsin's defense — at least until late in the half.
He was picked off by linebacker Culmer St. Jean, who returned it 13 yards to the Buckeyes 12. Four plays later, Maragos scored.
On the first play after the ensuing kickoff, another Pryor throw was nearly intercepted at the Ohio State 28 by cornerback Antonio Fenelus.
After forcing a punt, the Badgers reverted to pounding the ball between the tackles with 248-pound tailback John Clay — to drive from their own 22 to the Ohio State 33. Welch's 50-yard field goal put them up 10-7.
The Buckeyes had just 36 yards of total offense on their first five possessions until Pryor found his footing late in the second quarter. He hit half of his six passes in a quick 88-yard race against the clock, capped by a 32-yard scoring pass to DeVier Posey with 40 seconds left. That left him just 4 of 12 for 70 yards with the one interception at the break, with a crowd of 105,301 relieved to still have a lead at the break.
But the interception return by Hines and Small's kickoff return virtually ended the suspense.
The last time Ohio State returned two interceptions for touchdowns in a game was a 28-6 win over Penn State on Sept. 23, 2006, when Malcolm Jenkins went 61 yards and Antonio Smith came back 55.
The Buckeyes' last kickoff return for a score came in a game they're still trying to forget. Ted Ginn Jr. went 93 yards with the opening kickoff in the 2007 Bowl Championship Series title game, a 41-14 loss to Florida.
Last updated: 11:46 am Thursday, December 13, 2012