Badgers falter at the end against No. 1 Ohio State

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Their effort was gallant. Their heart was undeniable. Their execution on offense, defense and special teams was, at times, sparkling.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Their effort was gallant. Their heart was undeniable. Their execution on offense, defense and special teams was, at times, sparkling.

Their quest to stun No. 1 Ohio State, alive and well midway through the third quarter Saturday in front of a hostile crowd of 105,449 fans, disappeared in a span of 12 minutes.

Ohio State tailback Chris Wells tore through Wisconsin's defense, minus two starters, for three second-half touchdowns and the Buckeyes gave quarterback Tyler Donovan and friends nothing over UW's final six possessions.

A seven-point lead quickly deteriorated into a 38-17 loss to the Buckeyes, a loss that revealed Ohio State as the tougher, deeper and more talented Big Ten Conference team.

"We all knew that we had to finish," UW strong safety Aubrey Pleasant said. "It doesn't matter if you're up. It matters who is up at the end of four quarters."


That would be Ohio State (10-0, 6-0), which has won a Big Ten-record 20 consecutive league games, a school-record 28 consecutive regular-season games and is two victories from playing in the BCS title game for the third time in six seasons.

UW (7-3, 3-3), which used big pass plays from Tyler Donovan (17 for 29, 238 yards) to score 14 points in 5: 44 for a 17-10 lead with 6:53 left in the third quarter, suffered another loss because they couldn't finish what they started.

"They showed they were a better four-quarter team today," junior linebacker Jonathan Casillas said. "They put together a complete game and we didn't."

The Buckeyes, who entered the day No. 1 nationally in scoring defense, were on their heels after Donovan directed touchdown drives of 92 and 62 yards on UW's first two possessions of the second half.

Donovan, sacked nine times on the day, capped the first drive by escaping a heavy rush and firing a 28-yard touchdown strike to Travis Beckum (nine catches, 140 yards) with 12:37 left in the third quarter.

After UW's defense recorded a three-and-out, Donovan capped the 62-yard drive with a 2-yard pass to fullback Chris Pressley with 6:53 left in the quarter.

"The thing that we harped on all week was to come into Columbus and be the aggressors from the get-go," UW coach Bret Bielema said. "I thought our guys took the mentality to the field that we weren't going to be intimidated ...

"I'll give credit to Ohio State. They persevered."


Ohio State's comeback started when the Buckeyes took the ensuing kickoff and drove 80 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown to forge a 17-17 tie. Wells rushed six times for 54 yards on the drive, which he capped with a 31-yard run on a cutback over the left side.

"The defense needed a little more time to get back on their feet," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. "And our offense answered with a pretty good-sized drive."

After a UW punt, the Buckeyes moved 49 yards in five plays for the winning score, a 30-yard run by Wells on another cutback to the right side of the UW defense.

"I should have made that play," Pleasant said of Wells' second touchdown run. "It wasn't my responsibility but I still should have made that play."

A botched fake-punt attempt by senior Ken DeBauche set up the Buckeyes' next-to-last score, an 8-yard pass from Todd Boeckman to Brian Robiskie that pushed the lead to 31-17 with 10:05 left.

Facing fourth and 3 from the UW 27, DeBauche, who earlier executed a fake with a 31-yard pass to backup punter Paul Standring, was prepared for another fake.

However, the fake was called off when the Buckeyes deployed their punt-safe look with a 4-3 front.

DeBauche said he never got the signal from freshman Blake Sorensen, his personal protector, that the fake was off.


He tried to run and was tackled for a 2-yard loss.

"Once I had the ball and did my (normal) steps I was going to do before I started running," DeBauche said, "I looked up and it wasn't the look we were supposed to have."

Wells capped the scoring with a 23-yard run with 3:16 left. He carried only six times for 29 yards in the first half but ripped up UW's defense for 140 yards and three touchdowns in 15 carries after halftime.

The Badgers, who lost cornerback Allen Langford to an apparent knee injury in the first quarter and tackle Jason Chapman to an apparent knee injury early in the final quarter, had no answer.

Meanwhile, Ohio State limited UW to 55 yards in 30 plays over its final six possessions. UW's mini-rally in the third quarter, while inspiring, was wasted.

"We were pressing to beat the No. 1 team," Casillas said. "We didn't come here to play Ohio State. We came here to beat them."

-- Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune

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