Wisconsin sacked Terrelle Pryor four times, costing Ohio State 24 yards. Not all those sacks were a result of purely bad protection. More than once, Pryor simply took too much time looking downfield when he could have run or thrown the ball away. The Badgers decided early they would have to blitz Pryor to affect him and did a good job pressuring him for much of the game, although he was able to stand in and deliver good throws when he had to at the end of the game.
Ohio State's pass rush for the most part struggled again but did just enough to help pull out the victory.
The Buckeyes had two sacks and got in Allan Evridge's face occasionally, including on Wisconsin's final offensive play when Doug Worthington pushed UW left tackle Josh Oglesby into Evridge's face, flushing the quarterback from the pocket. Worthington and teammate Thaddeus Gibson pursued Evridge to the sideline, where he made a hurried throw that landed in the arms of Buckeye Malcolm Jenkins to seal the game.
"We told the front four, we're going to have to get pressure with just y'all," Jenkins told reporters afterwards. "We don't want to blitz. We just want to cover everybody and get pressure with the front four, and that's what they did."
2. Which team will play better in the second half?
Until last week, a Wisconsin team under Bret Bielema had never lost when leading at the half, but combined with the 27-25 setback at Michigan Sept. 27, the Badgers have seen teams rally to beat them in consecutive games.
Thanks to a total domination of the second quarter – including a 15-play, 91-yard touchdown drive that took 8:16 off the clock and tied the score at seven then a quick 77-yard drive that led to a Phillip Welch field goal on the final play – the Badgers led 10-7 heading into the halftime locker room. They enjoyed a 236-122 advantage in total yards and a time-of-possession advantage of more than five minutes.
The second half went to the Buckeyes in nearly every category, however. Ohio State outgained the Badgers 205-90 and held the ball for more than 18 minutes while outscoring the home team 13-7.
3. Which star running back will have the bigger day?
This turned out to be no contest.
Each back showed he is a load to bring down, but in the end Wells' superior explosiveness was a decisive difference. His 54-yard jaunt on Ohio State's first offensie play of the third quarter helped shake the Buckeyes out of first-half doldrums and led to the game-tying field goal by Ryan Pretorius.
He finished with 168 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Wells finished one yard shy of his output against the Badgers last season in Columbus.
"He's the king of the jungle," Pryor said, referencing a tattoo on Wells' arm that bears that message. "I promise you that."
Hill had 64 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, but his long run was just nine yards. He did not come close to his pregame career average of more than 115 yards per game, but the Badgers nearly outrushed the Buckeyes thanks to 69 yards from backup tailback John Clay and another 36 by receiver David Gilreath on end-arounds.
4. Can either team improve in the red zone?
Both teams entered the contest having had their struggles in the red zone this season, but the Badgers and Buckeyes were a combined 6-6 in scores Saturday night.
Ohio State had one touchdown and two field goals on its three trips inside the Badger 20 to improve to 8 for 8 in those situations with Pryor at the controls.
The athleticism of Ohio State's freshman quarterback proved to be the difference in the game as he glided 11 yards on an option keeper for the game-winning touchdown with 1:08 left in the fourth quarter.
"That's why you like to run option because there's no one really left for the quarterback if you get people blocked at the point of attack," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel told reporters.
With two touchdowns and a field goal on its three red-zone chances, Wisconsin bucked a recent trend that had seen the Badgers score just two touchdowns in its previous seven red-zone trips.
5. Will the Camp Randall atmosphere discombobulate the Buckeyes?
Ohio State snapped the nation's second-longest home winning streak at 16 games and handed Bielema his first home loss as Wisconsin head coach.
There was some thought beforehand that the suspension of the Badger marching band would dampen the mood of the stadium, but Bielema said that was not the case.
"I thought the crowd out there was absolutely unbelievable," Bielema said.
Pryor was impressed, too.
"They lived up to it," he said when asked about the Badger faithful and their reputation for rowdiness.
Regardless, Pryor never looked rattled. If anything, he might have shown too much patience on a few occasions, and the Buckeyes were guilty of just one pre-snap illegal procedure penalty, the same total the Badgers accumulated.