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Newz Forum: FOOTBALL: COLLEGE: Davis, defense lead Wisconsin comeback at Ohio State

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posted on Oct, 10 2004 @ 02:29 PM
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Down 10-0, the Wisconsin Badgers had the Ohio State Buckeyes right where they wanted them.

Wisconsin's defense throttled No. 18 Ohio State, and Anthony Davis slashed for 168 yards and a touchdown to lead the No. 15 Badgers to a 24-13 victory Saturday.

It was Wisconsin's third straight win on Ohio State's home turf, the first time a visitor has done that since Illinois won four in a row from 1988-94. The Badgers had never before won even twice in a row at Ohio State in the series dating to 1913.

"We've been fortunate and played well," coach Barry Alvarez said. "It's nothing more than that."

Maybe it is. The past two times the Badgers have come to town, Ohio State broke out to a 17-0 lead and ended up losing 42-17 and 20-17. Then a year ago at Camp Randall Stadium, Matt Schabert hit Lee Evans with a 79-yard pass in the fourth quarter for a 17-10 victory.

"We show a (film) clip on Friday night and I showed the last three wins," Alvarez said. "Our guys are fighters. They're not going to fold their tents because they fell behind."

The loss ended Ohio State's 18-game home winning streak and, on the heels of last week's stunning 33-27 overtime loss to Northwestern, pinned coach Jim Tressel with back-to-back losses for the first time in his 3½ seasons. The Buckeyes (3-2) also dropped to 0-2 in the Big Ten for the first time since 1992.

"All that talent we have out there," said Ted Ginn Jr., who scored the Buckeyes' only touchdown on a 65-yard punt return in the first quarter. "We should do more."

Asked if it was difficult playing in the loud and raucous environment at Ohio Stadium, Wisconsin defensive end Erasmus James said simply, "I don't think it's tough."

Wisconsin, 3-0 in the Big Ten, is 6-0 for the first time since 1998. That year the Badgers went on to go 11-1, share the Big Ten title and win the Rose Bowl.

Sophomore John Stocco was steady all day for the Badgers, completing 15 of 24 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.

"We didn't start off as well as we would have liked," Stocco said. "But we never quit and we never have. We just kept going, made a few plays and that was it."

He gave the Badgers a 14-7 lead on an 8-yard fade pass to Darrin Charles, then tossed a 10-yard scoring pass -- also on a fade pattern -- to Jonathan Orr that capped the scoring. Orr's diving, highlight-reel catch came just three plays after Ohio State's Santonio Holmes muffed a punt, Wisconsin's Scott Starks shoving him aside and then falling on the loose ball at the Ohio State 17 early in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, Ohio State's own first-year starter at quarterback, sophomore Justin Zwick, and his ineffective offense were booed loudly by 105,090 partisan fans, the fifth-largest crowd in Ohio Stadium history.

Zwick completed 15 of 31 passes for 125 yards - with two of the completions and 27 of the yards coming in the final few seconds.

"We want to forget about this one as soon as possible," Zwick said.

Trailing 14-13 at the half, the Buckeyes mustered just two first downs and 49 yards on 22 plays in the second half against a Wisconsin defense that came into the game leading the nation in scoring defense (5.2 points per game) and yards allowed (193.2). The Buckeyes totaled 224 yards, with 43 coming on one play -- a Statue-of-Liberty handoff from Zwick to freshman Tony Pittman.

Shortly after the game ended, several players exchanged punches at midfield while coaches and police tried to pull them apart. The melee lasted for less than a minute, but was representative of the bad blood between the teams in recent years.

Wisconsin took the second-half kickoff and drove 72 yards before Mike Allen kicked a 26-yard field goal for a 17-13 lead.

The drive included a mini-controversy involving the Big Ten's new trial video-review system. Replays appeared to show Davis fumbling the ball away. Referee Dennis Lipski consulted with the video technical advisor before ruling that the whistle had sounded before the ball had been recovered by Ohio State.

"By rule we have to give the ball back to the offense," Lipski said over his stadium microphone, prompting a tidal wave of boos.

After Starks recovered Holmes' fumbled punt, Davis ran for 4 and 3 yards before Stocco lofted a pass to the left corner of the end zone that Orr caught over his left shoulder before bouncing just inside the end line.

Ohio State never got inside the Wisconsin 48 again.

"I don't sit around and think about 0-2 (in the Big Ten) and the winning streak, you know," Tressel said. "You better do everything just right against someone like Wisconsin, and we didn't."

Wisconsin led 14-13 at the half, scoring on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter to erase that 10-0 deficit. Davis slanted through the line and sprinted 31 yards up the sideline for the first score before Stocco lobbed another fade that Charles pulled away from cornerback E.J. Underwood.

Mike Nugent kicked field goals of 42 and 55 yards for Ohio State. Nugent's second field goal - matching the longest of his career - came on the last play of the half and gave him the school record with 60 for his career.

"It's a huge win for us," Alvarez said.

Without realizing the irony, he added, "It's not easy to come over here and win."


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