Several college football experts wanted to see how Ohio State freshman Terrelle Pryor would fare in his first road test before buying into the quarterback’s hype.
Consider Pryor’s test passed. The 19-year-old led Ohio State to a game-winning touchdown in the final minutes, and the Buckeyes escaped Camp Randall Stadium with a 20-17 come-from-behind victory over Wisconsin Saturday night.
After UW tailback P.J. Hill capped off a bruising drive with a 2-yard touchdown run with 7:13 remaining that put Wisconsin ahead 17-13, Pryor led Ohio State on a 12-play, 80-yard drive for the game-clinching score. Pryor connected with Brian Hartline on long passes of 19 and 27 yards during the drive, and Pryor gave Ohio State the lead for good on an 11-yard touchdown run on an option play. Wisconsin’s linebackers looked to be confused before the snap, and Pryor took advantage by bursting through the line of scrimmage and streaking to the end zone with just more than a minute remaining.
Any chance the Badgers had to answer the score quickly evaporated when Malcolm Jenkins stepped in front of an Allan Evridge pass for a game-clinching interception on the first play of Wisconsin's ensuing possession.
Until the Ohio State's final drive, it looked like Wisconsin would once again win a night game against the Buckeyes. Led by 26 yards from tailback John Clay, Wisconsin drove 63 yards in 10 plays. Hill finished the drive with a tough 2-yard dive on third-and-goal from the OSU 2.
Brian Robiskie saved the day for Ohio State when Hartline fumbled after a long gain during Ohio State’s final drive. Hartline lost the ball at the UW 35, but Robiskie was right there to cover up the loose ball.
Ohio State took the game's opening kickoff and drove 71 yards for a touchdown in just over three minutes. The drive took six plays, five rushing, capped by a 33-yard touchdown run by Chris “Beanie” Wells, who stiff armed and carried Wisconsin defensive back Shane Carter into the end zone with him. Freshman center Michael Brewster had a key block to open a hole for Wells.
Ohio State had a golden opportunity to build on its lead when Thaddeus Gibson forced an Allan Evridge fumble near midfield later in the first half. Ross Homan recovered the ball, setting up the Buckeye offense at its own 49. The Buckeyes failed to move the ball, however. Wells ran for 2 yards on first down, and after consecutive sacks of Pryor, Ohio State was forced to punt.
The punt was a good one, pinning the Badgers inside the UW 10, but Wisconsin answered with its best drive of the game. The Badgers held the ball for more than eight minutes and drove 91 yards for a tying score. Tight end Mickey Turner capped the drive with a 9-yard touchdown reception from Allan Evridge on 1st-and-goal.
Things went from bad to worse on the Buckeyes’ ensuing drive. Maurice Wells set the offense up with good field position following a kickoff return to the OSU 41. However, two plays later, Wisconsin got the ball back. Pryor found Dane Sanzenbacher on a long pass, but the sophomore from Toledo fumbled when he was sandwiched by three Badgers.
The Buckeye defense held, but the Badgers added a field goal in the final seconds of the first half. Evridge connected with tight end Travis Beckum on consecutive first-down passes to move into Ohio State territory in the final minute, and then Evridge - with the benefit of plenty of time to throw - found a streaking Kyle Jefferson for a 35-yard gain to the Ohio State 3 with 4 seconds before halftime. That set up a Philip Welch 20-yard field goal and gave the Badgers a 10-7 lead at the break.
Ohio State tied the game on its first drive of the second half. Following a stop by the defense, Wells put the Buckeyes in Wisconsin territory with a 54-yard run to the UW 26. The Buckeyes drove inside the Badger 5 but were forced to settle for a 20-yard Ryan Pretorius field goal - the second time OSU was forced to settle for a field goal after reaching the red zone.
Wells finished with 168 yards rushing and a score. Pryor completed 13 of 19 passes for 144 yards with an interception and added 20 yards on the ground. Brian Hartline led the receivers with three catches for 57 yards.
The Buckeyes (5-1, 2-0) return back home next Saturday to take on Purdue. The game is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. Eastern kickoff and will be televised on ABC. The Boilermakers (2-3, 0-1) are coming off a 20-6 home loss to No. 6 Penn State.