Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 10/30/11

Down 26-14 with under four minutes left in the game, Russell Wilson led the offense on a furious comeback, throwing two touchdowns to Jared Abbrederis to give Wisconsin a 29-26 lead with just over a minute to go. But, just like in last week’s heartbreaking loss to Michigan State, the Badgers’ defense couldn’t keep the opposing offense off the board in the final minute, and allowed a 40-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds left, falling behind 33-29 and eventually losing as desperation passes from Wilson came up short.

Dan Herron shouldered the load for the Buckeyes, running the ball 33 times for 160 yards. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Players of the Game: Ohio State’s running game, as a whole, is what got them the victory. Running back Dan Herron was the workhorse (33 carries, 160 yards), but it was quarterback Braxton Miller who had the most important runs, consistently converting third and fourth downs by getting out of the pocket. He finished with 99 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries, including a 44-yard touchdown run with under five minutes to play. You have to think the amount of times Ohio State ran the ball (58), coupled with their dominating time of possession, is what wore the Badgers’ defense down in the final minute. They looked tired, and the secondary had its eyes in the backfield when Miller scrambled on the final possession, leaving freshman receiver Devin Smith wide open in the end zone.

Russell Wilson and Jared Abbrederis each had monster performances  in defeat. Wilson threw for 253 yards and three touchdowns on 20-32 passing. He hit Abbrederis six times for 113 yards, including the two touchdowns in the final four minutes. These two kept Wisconsin in the game, and they appeared to win it with the 49-yard touchdown that gave the Badgers the lead with 1:18 to play.

The Later, The Wilder: The Badgers were in their first defensive showdown of the season for the opening half of the game, as the score was just  7-3 at halftime. Wisconsin soon lost that lead early in the third when Braxton Miller capped a 75-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run on fourth down. And the scoring picked up from there. The teams combined for 52 second-half points, 28 of which came with under five minutes to play.

Stat of the Game:Ohio State controlled the ball for nearly 36 minutes, while Wisconsin had it for just over 24 minutes. The Buckeyes’ running attack was the main reason for their dominating time of possession, as they ran the ball 58 times for 268 yards and three touchdowns.

Montee Ball had his biggest impact in the passing game, catching three passes for 30 yards and a touchdown. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

All Pass and No Run: Failing to move the ball on the ground early in the game, the Badgers’ offense relied heavily on the passing attack. As a team, they finished with just 89 yards on 29 carries. Montee Ball had 17 carries for 85 yards and a score, but had little impact for much of the game. With Ohio State having no problems moving the ball on the ground and shutting down the Wisconsin rushing attack, a scary situation happened for the Badgers. They had to throw the ball to stay in the game, and in the process scored quickly and left their defense exhausted from being on the field so much. Controlling the time of possession was always a hallmark of the Wisconsin running game, and it’s possible the two straight losses are a result of their straying from that strategy.

What’s Next: Two straight conference losses for the Badgers leave them in a bad spot. They are completely out of the national title conversation (if they weren’t already after the loss to MSU), and will have to get some help to have a shot at the Big Ten championship. They have to win their remaining four games, the most important of which will be the last game of the season, home against Penn State. The Nittany Lions are undefeated in conference play (5-0) and are in control of the Leaders division. They would have to lose two more conference games for the Badgers to get ahead of them, which could very well happen. After a bye next week, Penn State finishes the season with games against Nebraska, Ohio State, and Wisconsin, which will be no easy task. The Badgers also need Ohio State to lose again, which could happen in either their matchup with Penn State or in the regular season finale with Michigan Nov. 26.

Any way you look at it, the Badgers are on the outside of the Big Ten race and will need some help to have a chance at winning the Leaders division and securing a spot in the conference championship game. Above all, they need to recover from two consecutive, heartbreaking losses and win their remaining games. Wisconsin (6-2, 2-2) heads home and will take on Purdue (4-4, 2-2) next weekend. Kickoff is set for 2:30 CST.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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