COLUMBUS -- Any questions about the health of Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller were answered in emphatic fashion. The junior, who had missed most of the past three games with a sprained knee, was back in the starter's role against Wisconsin and threw four touchdown passes to lead the Buckeyes to a 31-24 win in Ohio State's Big Ten opener. In front of a Saturday night Ohio Stadium crowd of 105,826, Miller completed 17-of-25 passes for 198 yards as the Buckeyes (5-0, 1-0) won their 17th straight game. "It feels great to be back," Miller said. "We fought hard to the end, and we didn't miss a beat." The victory certainly did not come easily for Ohio State, which had blown out its four previous opponents this season. Wisconsin (3-2, 1-1) had the ball in the closing moments of the game but ran out of downs in the final seconds. The Badgers, the third-best rushing team in the nation at nearly 350 yards per game, were limited to just 104 rushing yards, but quarterback Joel Stave passed for 295 yards, completing 20-of-34 passes for two touchdowns with one interception. Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbrederis had 10 receptions for 207 yards and a score. "That's a very talented team with a couple of the best running backs we'll see, but we were able to stop the run," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. "We would have liked to close it out a little better, but we won a game against a very good ranked team, and we'll take that." Ohio State led 24-14 at the half and stretched that margin to 31-14 late in the third quarter as Miller connected with Corey Brown with a 1-yard touchdown pass. An interception by Bradley Roby had set up the Buckeyes at the Wisconsin 32. The Badgers stayed in striking range as running back James White scored on a 17-yard run early in the fourth quarter to pull Wisconsin within 10. Ohio State was able to burn a lot of the remaining time running the ball but could not put the Badgers away. Wisconsin pushed for a 42-yard field goal from Kyle French to cut the deficit to 31-24 with just over two minutes left. The Badgers failed to recover an onside kick, but Ohio State went nowhere in three downs and had to punt with 1:40 left. Wisconsin was pinned inside its own 10 by the punt and Ohio State's defense then closed the door. "Ohio State is a very talented team and we gave them too many layups," Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said, referring to the Badgers' eight penalties, one of which negated an Ohio State fumbled punt that Wisconsin had recovered deep in the Buckeyes end. "You have to make them earn it, and too many times tonight we just didn't do that. We're a good team, but we have to find ways to be great." The Buckeyes got three first-half touchdown passes from Miller, who threw 25 yards to Evan Spencer and then hit Devin Smith from 26 yards as Ohio State built a 14-7 first-quarter lead. "We gave them those long throws where we just played them wrong, and you can't do that," Andersen said. "That's 14 points in a very close game." Wisconsin hit a wall of Ohio State defenders on its first couple of series and then went to the air. Stave kept the Badgers moving with a 36-yard scoring pass to Abbrederis that tied the score at the time, but Wisconsin missed a 32-yard field goal try early in the second quarter. Ohio State pushed its lead to 17-7 late in the second quarter with a 45-yard field goal from Drew Basil before Stave hit Sam Arneson from 11 yards to cut the lead to 17-14. On the final offensive play of the first half, Miller hit Brown on fourth down with a 40-yard touchdown pass for a 24-14 advantage. NOTES: Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen's previous visit to Columbus was in 1984 when he was being recruited out of junior college by the Buckeyes. Andersen ended up playing at Utah. ... Ohio State backup QB Kenny Guiton threw 12 touchdown passes in the Buckeyes' three previous games -- a streak never before accomplished at Ohio State. ... Wisconsin entered the game with two running backs averaging better than 100 yards per game. Sophomore RB Melvin Gordon was averaging 156 yards per game and White, a senior, was averaging 110.5 yards per game.
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