Notes: Special Teams Drop the Ball

After twice falling to fully comeback on the road, every mistake No.12 Wisconsin made is magnified. In the grand scheme of things, there have been no bigger gaffes than the punt unit, which have allowed two blocks in two weeks that have led to easy scores.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - After having no punts blocked all last season, a Wisconsin special teams breakdown for the second straight week led to its opponent seizing momentum and riling up the home crowd.

A week after a blocking breakdown allowed Michigan State to block a punt at the end of the first half, a momentous play that factored into the 37-31 defeat, Ohio State delivered a decisive block in the third quarter that contributed to Wisconsin's 33-29 unraveling in the Horseshoe.

After Ohio State marched down on its opening drive to score its first touchdown, freshman linebacker Ryan Shazier went around junior lineman Robert Burge, who was primarily responsible for the blocking failure against the Spartans, and had a clear alley at punter Brad Nortman, sending the kick backwards.

The Buckeyes recovered the punt on the one-yard line and three plays later, Ohio State had its second rushing touchdown of the quarter and a 17-7 lead.

Unlike last week, Burge was not available for comment.

"Obviously, it's frustrating," said Nortman, who never saw the blitzing backer. "As a punt unit, we want to be able to have a positive influence on the game. The punts that I get off and am able to punt, I want it to be a positive influence on the game, but it's just frustrating when something like that can happen."

Nortman and Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said the team put an extra, but the head coach said the three-man shield in front of the senior punter thought a different look was there, causing another miscommunication.

"They sent three guys up the middle and we had a breakdown fundamentally on the right shield," Bielema said.

Wisconsin was able to somewhat erase the gaffe when OSU returner Jordan Hall muffed the ensuing punt on the 27-yard line, allowing senior Andrew Lukasko to recover and the Badgers to score six plays later.

Ball Bruises

In retrospect, maybe Montee Ball was lucky to not have played against Ohio State last season. If he had, Ball might not have gone on the second-half tear that he did.

Averaging 6.1 yards per carry entering the Horseshoe and rushing for at least 115 yards in each conference game, Ball could only manage 85 yards on 17 carries, 40 of which came on one play, as the running game was held to only 89 total yards.

"They did a great job of blowing our run game yet," said Ball, who had just two rushes longer than five yards but never lost any yards. "I tried to make things happen in the run game, but I fell short there."

Wisconsin entered the game ranked eighth nationally in rushing (252.1 ypg). The Badgers have rushed for 200 yards in each of their previous six games. Ohio State held Wisconsin to only 10 rushing yards on 12 carries in the first 30 minutes and 89 yards for the game. Up until Saturday, Wisconsin had at least 208 rushing in every game this season.

Since the beginning of the 2005 seasons, Ohio State had allowed only 13 100-yard rushers, a span of 85 games, which is the third fewest in the football bowl subdivision over that time period. At home, the number is even stingier with the Buckeyes allowing just one 100-yard rusher (Michigan's Denard Robinson) in the past 26 games.

Bittersweet Return

This wasn't the first time quarterback Russell Wilson had taken a visit to the Shoe. Actually, it was the third. Coming out of Richmond (Va.) Collegiate School, Wilson – once rated the No.67 quarterback in the country for the 2007 class – took a visit to Columbus, but never showed much interest when Ohio State never officially offered him a scholarship.

After a stellar three-year career and a much publicized parting of ways from North Carolina State that led to Wilson becoming a college football free agent, Ohio State again reached out to Wilson to gauge his interest in replacing maligned quarterback Terrelle Pryor. By that time, however, Wilson had already narrowed his choices to Auburn and Wisconsin.

Wilson certainly gave the Buckeyes a glimpse at what they are missing, finishing with 253 passing yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers. His touchdown pass extended his streak of at least one touchdown pass to 32-straight games, four short of the NCAA record.

Team Notes

• Wisconsin has lost two straight games for the first time since Oct. 10, 2009 (31-13 at Ohio State) and Oct. 17, 2009 (20-10 vs. Iowa).

• It's the first time Wisconsin has lost consecutive road games since Oct 18, 2008 (38-16 at Iowa) and Nov. 1, 2008 (25- 24 at Michigan State).

• Wisconsin has converted its last eight turnovers gained into touchdowns, or every turnover in Big Ten play.

• The Badgers gained just 89 yards rushing, the first time UW was held under 100 yards since gaining 99 at Northwestern on Nov 11, 2009.

• It's the fewest rushing yards gained by Wisconsin since it had 87 at Iowa on Oct. 17, 2009.

• Ohio State passed for only 89 yards. It's the third time this season Wisconsin has held an opponent under 100 yards passing and only two out of eight teams have eclipsed 200 yards.

• The Buckeyes rushed for 268 yards, the most given up by the Badgers since Cal Poly gained 276 on Nov. 22, 2008.

• Wisconsin finished with 95 tackles in the game, the most for the Badgers since recording 98 against Akron on Sept. 6, 2003.

• The Badgers' 11 tackles for loss were the most since posting 13 at Iowa on Oct. 17, 2009.

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