With no shot to play for the Big Ten championship, a BCS bowl game or any bowl game, Ohio State's most ambitious goal was to go undefeated, even though that seemed pretty improbable before the season started.
The Buckeyes are one game from finishing that task.
Despite giving up a game-tying touchdown with eight seconds left in regulation to Wisconsin, Ohio State stayed focused and scored on the first possession of overtime, then held to get the 21-14 win.
This Buckeyes team doesn't get rattled, which is a reflection of its leaders and coach Urban Meyer. It didn't panic in close games against Michigan State or Purdue, and it didn't panic in a hostile road environment after Wisconsin's comeback.
Wisconsin seemed to be in trouble when Montee Ball had the second fumble of his career on fourth and 1 inside the 5-yard line with less than three minutes left. Ball was stretching for the end zone, and he would have set the FBS career record for touchdowns with the score. He tied Travis Prentice's record of 78 touchdowns earlier in the game, and Wisconsin seemed more interested in getting him the record than tying the game. The Badgers handed to Ball five out of six plays inside the 20, with the only exception being a quarterback sneak on fourth and 1.
Part of the Ball-centric playcalling was that Wisconsin quarterback Curt Phillips was struggling, but he came alive on a drive that tied the game, including the tying touchdown pass. Ohio State's resiliency was impressive. Four rushes gained 25 yards and a touchdown on the Buckeyes' first possession of overtime, and then when Wisconsin faced fourth down on its first possession, Ohio State's Christian Bryant batted it down to seal Ohio State's 11th straight win to start the season.
The odd part of the game is Wisconsin will go on to play in the Big Ten Championship Game in a couple weeks, while Ohio State sits at home because of its NCAA sanctions. Even though the Big Ten has struggled this season, it would be interesting to see where Ohio State fit into the national championship conversation if it was eligible. If nothing else, Meyer and the Buckeyes have established this season that they are going to be a power in the Big Ten for many years to come.
There still is one piece of unfinished business. Next week against Michigan will be for an undefeated season. That should feel like a bowl game.
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