"This is a man's world," Wells said. "What are you going to be? A man or a kid?"
Pryor just smiled and laughed.
"When he said that, I was like, ‘Damn, Beanie. You can't put even more pressure on me,' " Pryor said. "But that boosted me a lot. It gave me confidence to go in there and do what needed to be done. I like to be challenged and I don't like to let my teammates down."
Pryor did not let the Buckeyes down. Ohio State got the ball with just 6:26 remaining in the fourth quarter, and Pryor calmly marched the Buckeyes down the field for a go-ahead score. He capped the 12-play, 80-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown run through the Wisconsin defense.
The fantastic finish gave Ohio State an important 20-17 victory that kept its hopes for a fourth consecutive Big Ten title alive.
"This was a tough game," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. "Wisconsin played their hearts out. Ohio State played their hearts out. There was a great atmosphere and a great crowd. It was a battle, and we were fortunate to be able to take it down that last drive and make some plays.
"We're awful proud of our kids."
The Badgers excited their crowd and looked poised to upset the Buckeyes when P.J. Hill gave Wisconsin a four-point lead with 6:31 remaining on a 2-yard touchdown plunge. But UW was unable to post another primetime victory over Ohio State thanks to Pryor's game-winning heroics.
Brandon Saine returned the Wisconsin kickoff to the OSU 20-yard line, and the Buckeyes quickly faced a third-down situation following a Brian Hartline drop and a 4-yard rush by Wells. Hartline made up for his earlier miscue, however, hauling in a Pryor pass for a 19-yard gain to keep the drive alive.
The offense then caused Buckeye fans' hearts to skip a beat when Pryor fumbled the next snap. He recovered the ball himself but took a 5-yard loss. On second down, Pryor and Hartline again connected for a 27-yard gain on a play that again almost ended in disaster. Hartline fumbled the ball after the catch, but teammate Brian Robiskie pounced on the loose ball to keep the drive alive at the Wisconsin 35.
Wells continued the march toward the end zone by taking a Pryor pitch on an option play for a 9-yard gain on first down. The junior then added a 2-yard rush for another first down, but the Buckeyes again struggled with success. Pryor took a 4-yard loss, setting up a second-and-14 at the UW 28.
Again the Buckeyes responded with a big play after a miscue. Pryor found a streaking Ray Small over the middle of the field for a 13-yard pass play. Then the OSU quarterback converted a third-and-1 at the Badgers 15 with a 2-yard sneak.
Wells gained 2 yards on a first-down run, and that set up the game-winning score. With Wisconsin's defense seemingly confused, Pryor and Wells went left on an option play. Left tackle Alex Boone engaged Wisconsin defensive end Dan Moore, and when safety Jay Valai went for Wells, Pryor burst through the defense to the goal line. Cornerback Allen Langford got to Pryor near the goal line, but it was too late. Pryor reached the end zone and gave Ohio State the winning score.
Tressel said the option was called in anticipation of a Wisconsin blitz.
"You know we love to run option vs. blitz, and they didn't get lined up," Tressel said. "And we were saying, ‘Snap it! Snap it!' because they wasn't anyone over there."
Wisconsin did get one last chance to steal the victory. The Badgers took over at its 19 with 1:03 remaining, but the Buckeye defense quickly sealed the victory. Senior cornerback Malcolm Jenkins intercepted Allan Evridge's first-down pass, and Ohio State then ran out the clock.
Prior to the late-game heroics, the Buckeyes and Badgers fought a back-and-forth battle. Ohio State scored first on a 33-yard touchdown run by Wells in the first quarter, but the Badgers led 10-7 at halftime. OSU placekicker Ryan Pretorius tied the game with a 21-yard field goal in the third quarter and gave the Buckeyes a 13-10 lead early in the fourth quarter with a 34-yard boot.
Wisconsin went ahead on Hill's touchdown run that capped a 10-play, 63-yard drive.
Pryor led the Buckeyes to the victory, but Wells was the star of the show. The future Arizona Cardinal rush for a game-high 168 yards on 22 carries. Pryor completed 13 of 19 passes for 144 yards and an interception. Hartline led the receivers with 57 yards on three carries.
The victory helped the Buckeyes keep pace in the Big Ten. Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State had identical 2-0 conference marks, while Northwestern was 1-0. The Spartans, Nittany Lions and Wildcats were OSU's next three opponents.