A Win for the Ages

J.J. Watt sacked Terrelle Pryor twice Saturday night as Wisconsin upset OSU 31-18. Watt was speechless when asked about students rushing the field in victory.

MADISON — The game exceeded the hype. With ESPN's Gameday, the nighttime setting and The No. 1 team in the country across the field — that is saying something.

And after the final seconds ticked off on Wisconsin's (6-1, 2-1) 31 -18 victory over Ohio State (6-1, 2-1) the celebration exceeded everything. Literally.

"This is the best win I have ever experienced," Fifth-year senior and captain John Moffitt said. "It is really something special. And it took everybody. You could really see that, everybody had a game, everybody stepped up and it doesn't happen a lot. I will never forget this."

How do you encapture the passion of thousands of bellowing fans rushing the field as the No. 1 team in the country slinks away to the locker room? All just simply wanting to touch you, grab a high-five if they are lucky, anyway they can be a small part of the night.

Defensive end J.J. Watt, who finished with two sacks of athlete-extraordinaire Terrelle Pryor and three tackles for a loss couldn't put it in words.

He simply smiled and giggled.

"That's it," Watt laughed. "That is the best way I can put it."

"I'll remember how quickly that place can fill up," UW head coach Bret Bielema added.

"We didn't exactly go through an evacuations plan [before the game]."

The Badgers were without the lead for a mere 12 seconds of the game after David Gilreath took the opening kickoff 97-yards to the house. It was the fourth longest kickoff return in Wisconsin history and the first of Gilreath's long returning career.

With seven days to let the hype and brightness of the stage get to their heads, the Badgers managed to turn the pressure around in one play.

UW never looked back, holding the lead for the rest of the game.

"When you are on the road, if you don't at least match their special teams, if you let the home team win the special teams part, it's going to be difficult to win," Ohio State coach said.

After the Wisconsin defense forced a quick punt from the Buckeyes, the Wisconsin offense put its definitive stamp on the game.

The Badgers took the ball and ran 19 plays and took 10:04 off the clock before John Clay plunged in for a 14-yard touchdown run. One more time, 19 plays and 10:04 off the clock.

Clay finished the game with 104 yards and two touchdowns, making him the first back in 29 games to crack the century mark against Ohio State. The ground attack as a whole churned out 184 yards with three touchdowns and 4.3 yards per carry.

Bielema said after the game he challenged his lines, both offensive and defensive, to win the battle in the trenches. The message stuck.

"When the head coach calls you out you have to raise your game," Moffitt said.

"I think establishing our run game was the key to victory today. Being able to move the ball the right way and not be put in any bad passing situations … we were successful all game and that was the difference."

After riding a wave of momentum to start the game, UW absorbed two counter-blows from Ohio State, but bounced back from both to come out on top.

The first came from the offense's only slipup in the first half — Scott Tolzien's interception.

Reminiscent of last year, Tolzien forced a ball over the middle which ended up in the hands of OSU's Andrew Sweat. The Buckeyes offense took over on the Wisconsin 23, one drive after the Buckeyes put their first points of the game.

Thrown into the fire, the UW defense buckled down. Hard.

Two straight downs of no-gain were followed by a six-yard loss on a Watt sack, setting up a 45-yard field goal Ohio State kicker Devin Barclay pushed just left.

"Our coach always talks about sudden changes, sudden changes and how big sudden changes can be," UW safety Aaron Henry said. "Earlier on in the season we had a couple opportunities and we weren't really good. So we really emphasized being a sudden change team and a four-quarter team. Going out there we knew we had to [step up]."

Tolzien was given a chance to payback the defense in the fourth quarter.

After 15 unanswered points from OSU, the Wisconsin offense took the ball on their own 27 with 11:33 left in the game, needing a score to slow down the charging Buckeyes.

Of all strategies, offensive coordinator Paul Chryst dialed up four straight passes. Tolzien completed three of them for 26 total yards — including a 3rd down conversion hit of 20 yards to Nick Toon (6 catches, 72 yards on the day).

James White capped the final scoring drive with a ankle-breaking juke and a 12-yard touchdown run.

"I think the more games I have been apart of that is really a key, just keeping your foot on the gas pedal," Tolzien said. "We have all seen those games where teams get defensive and all of the sudden teams starting playing not to lose instead of playing to win. I thought that was awesome that we kept our foot on the gas pedal and he just trusted us."

Coming into the day, Bielema had gone 1-8 against ranked teams during the regular season.

The way the team started out, the ability to take Ohio State's best shot and still stand, the control of emotions under pressure and the atmosphere — It is likely the most inspiring performance of Bret Bielema's head coaching career.

"I think our kids, now so more than ever, believe in what we're selling as coaches. They really believe in the things that we practice every day, offensively, defensively and special teams-wise.

"For our players, our coaches, our administrators, our fans, to give them this environment and come through is really special."

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