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MADISON, Wis. -- Another season, another close call. That's what's become customary when Ohio State takes on Wisconsin in recent Big Ten battles.
Four quarters weren't enough to settle the most recent matchup between the Buckeyes and Badgers, but it only took one overtime period to make Urban Meyer's first trip to Madison as Ohio State's head coach to be a successful one. The Buckeyes managed to escape their 11th game of the season with their undefeated record intact, thanks to a 21-14 victory over Wisconsin inside Camp Randall Stadium.
After the game, Ohio State players and coaches discussed the key moments from Saturday's dramatic victory.
When Wisconsin quarterback Curt Phillips found Jacob Pedersen for a five-yard touchdown completion to tie the game with just eight seconds remaining, the Buckeyes were forced into overtime, where they lost the coin toss and took over the ball on offense. What seemed like a disadvantage at first suddenly turned into a plus for Ohio State, as all it took was four-play drive that culminated in a Carlos Hyde touchdown run to give the Buckeyes the decisive score of the game.
"I was like, here we go, let's see how this play works," Hyde said. "Boom."
Hyde finished the game with 91 yards on just 15 carries, scoring two touchdowns in a game where Meyer admitted that he wish he would've used the Buckeyes' back more.
"We need to give him the ball a little bit more," Meyer said. "Usually we are a team that when we block someone, we have a chance to win, and I don't feel like we blocked them like we have in the past."
Numbers don't lie
One more win. That's all it will take for the Buckeyes to cap off the sixth unbeaten, untied season in school history. With a potential win over Michigan next week giving this Buckeye team that distinction, the historical significance of next week's game hasn't been lost on its players.
"We gotta do what we gotta do," Hyde said. "This is the big game. We're gonna be locked in and prepared for this one. We know how big this one is."
A senior captain, John Simon is doing his best to make sure that his teammates don't count their chickens before they hatch.
"They key word there is we can be that," Simon emphasized. "We're not there yet. We got another week to go, and preparation for next week starts tomorrow."
Although his biggest play of the game didn't come on offense, wide receiver Corey Brown gave the Buckeyes their first lead of the game, jumping Ohio State out to a 7-0 run with 1:58 remaining in the first quarter on a 68-yard punt return touchdown. Brown said that the he had a feeling heading into Saturday's game that he'd be able to score his second return touchdown of the season against the Badgers.
"We knew we'd be able to break one on these guys this week because of the scheme," Brown said. "Those guys out there, they gave 110 percent. I mean, anybody could have ran through the hole."
In his last road game as a Buckeye, Simon put together his best effort, tying the Ohio State record for sacks in a game with four, matching the mark set by Jason Simmons, Bobby Carpenter, and Vernon Gholston. The senior defensive end credited a complete team effort on the defensive side of the ball for his record-tying performance.
"A total team effort," Simon said. "Great coverage. Their quarterback was holding the ball for an awfully long time."
Cause for concern
Despite the Buckeyes' big victory, the OSU offense looked stagnate at times, particularly on quarterback Braxton Miller's end. The Buckeyes' sophomore signal caller amassed just 172 yards of total offense, both running and throwing the ball, something that his coach chalked up to the Badgers playing special attention to the Heisman Trophy candidate.
"Their focus was all over Braxton Miller, and rightfully so," Meyer said. "As we grow as a team, we have to stretch. I can't stand watching that and I'm sure people can't stand watching it when we just don't have the vertical threat."
While Hyde admitted that his backfield running mate was getting a little wound up with his lack of success, he said he did what he could to calm down Miller, which paid off when both players combined for the 25 yards in overtime that the Buckeyes needed to win the game.
"He seemed a little frustrated," Hyde said. "I was just thinking, just be patient. It's going to come to us eventually. We just stayed in there and stayed focused and waited for that opportunity."
Although certainly pleased with Saturday's big win, and the Big Ten Leaders Division Championship that comes with it, Meyer has already turned his attention towards his first Ohio State-Michigan game as the Buckeyes' head coach, which has essentially turned into the 2012 OSU squad's de-facto championship game.
"This is a great game against a very good team who's been in the Rose Bowl a bunch. This is not our rival," Meyer said of Wisconsin. "The next one is. When we use that "R" word, we're talking about next week and we're going to dive into it as soon as we get back."
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