From No. 1 to no one: Buckeyes lose
Ohio State is one and done as No. 1.
John Clay ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns and James White darted in for the clinching score in the fourth quarter as No. 18 Wisconsin took down top-ranked Ohio State 31-18 Saturday night.
For the second week in a row, there will be a new No. 1 in college football, with the Buckeyes (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) falling the way Alabama was beaten last week — on the road and in conference.
Wisconsin hadn’t defeated a No. 1 since 1981, when the Badgers knocked off Michigan 21-14.
This one felt like an upset right from the start.
David Gilreath returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown and the Badgers (6-1, 2-1) proceeded to run over the Buckeyes in the first half, taking a 21-3 lead into the break behind Clay and his blockers.
“I challenged our offensive line at the beginning of the week,” Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. “If we’re going to have success, it starts with you guys.”
Terrelle Pryor, who threw for 156 yards and ran for another 56, guided Ohio State on two long scoring drives in the second half and Dan Herron capped them both with touchdowns to cut the Wisconsin lead to 21-18 with 11:38 left in the fourth.
But the Badgers responded with another long touchdown drive then added a field goal and now No. 1 is up for grabs again — just in time for the BCS standings to make their season debut on Sunday.
Next up at No. 1 in the AP Top 25? Maybe, No. 2 Oregon, which was idle this week and has never been top-ranked before. The Ducks must have enjoyed watching the show at rowdy Camp Randall. No. 3 Boise State and No. 4 TCU also must have been smiling as the scores rolled in from around the country.
Not only did Ohio State lose, so did previously unbeaten No. 5 Nebraska — and the power conference outsiders from Boise State and TCU now have two fewer bluebloods to block the path to the national championship game.
Wisconsin broke a three game-losing streak to the Buckeyes in easily the biggest victory since Bielema took over the program from Barry Alavrez five years ago.
Bielema had been 0-4 against top 10 teams. Now the Rose Bowl is in reach again for the Badgers.
The Badgers’ fans celebrated big-time, pouring onto the field despite pleas from the PA announcer that it wasn’t safe. They seemed to make it down OK, covering the field and some grabbing a seat on the goal posts.
For Ohio State, its national title hopes are in critical condition after a third straight loss as the No. 1 team in the country. The last two came in the 2007 season, to Illinois in the regular season and in the BCS title game to LSU.
The Buckeyes just couldn’t overcome Wisconsin’s dominant first half on Saturday night in front of a pumped up crowd of 81,194.
The Badgers outgained the Buckeyes 197-93 in the first 30 minutes, punishing a defense that hadn’t given up a 100-yard rusher in 29 games.
Even after that terrible first half, though, Ohio State responded to the double-digit deficit much the way Alabama did against South Carolina last week, by surging in the third quarter.
First it was a 77-yard touchdown drive that featured some of the best of Pryor, using his arm and legs to make plays. Herron got the Buckeyes’ first touchdown with a 13-yard run out of the wildcat and it was 21-10 with 10:08 left in the third.
Plenty of time.