The First Blow: October 13th, 2001, Wisconsin @ #21 Ohio State

This isn't a surprise, not to Wisconsin fans at least. Against Jim Tressel, Wisconsin was consistently a thorn in the side of the Ohio St. Buckeyes.

Jim Tressel leaves Ohio State with a 4-4 record against the Wisconsin Badgers; his worst record by far against any Big Ten opponent. Considering that Tressel:

never lost to Minnesota
never lost to Indiana
never lost to Michigan State
lost only one game to Iowa (2004)
lost only one game to Northwestern (2004)
was 9-1 against Michigan (the lone loss coming to the 2003 Wolverines)

However, Ohio State...

was 7-3 against Penn State, and every game with the exception of 2009 was close
was 6-2 against Purdue, and only the 2001 and 2010 games were multiple-touchdown defeats
was 6-2 against Illinois, with even the hapless 2006 Fighting Illini coming within a touchdown of a monumental upset
and 4-4 against Wisconsin. Perhaps no team gave Jim Tressel more trouble than your Wisconsin Badgers.

The setting is 2001. The Buckeyes are 3-1, and 2-0 in Big Ten play. This is Jim Tressel's first season as head coach of the Buckeyes, and the 21st ranked Buckeyes take a 17-0 lead on the Badgers, who will struggle to win 5 games in 2001. A Josh Huston field goal, a Steve Bellisari QB sneak, and a Lydell Ross touchdown run gave the Buckeyes that lead...

which was immediately squandered. Wisconsin stopped Ohio State on their own 23 by forcing an Ohio State turnover on downs. Anthony Davis immediately ran 23 yards for a touchdown, and the comeback was on. The Badgers got the second-half kickoff, and went 80 yards downfield, scoring on a 42 yard slant pass from Brooks Bollinger to Nick Davis. Wisconsin was now down 17-14.

An exchange of punts followed, and Nick Davis returned a Groom punt 19 yards to start off the game-tying drive. Bollinger ran the Wisconsin offense down to the Ohio State 8 yard line, but were unable to punch the ball in on a 3rd and 4. Mark Neuser tied the game with a 25 yard field goal. Wisconsin's defense immediately stepped in on the next drive, sacking Steve Bellisari 3 times. After a Delante McGrew sack on first down, Mike Echols forced a Bellisari fumble, which Ohio State was able to a cost of 15 yards lost. On 3rd and 26, LB Bryson Thompson sacked Bellisari for a 9 yard loss, forcing yet another Groom punt.

Unfortunately for Alvarez, Wisconsin was unable to get anything on their next drive, going 3 and out. Ohio State drove 50 yards down the field, but Lydell Ross was stopped for a loss of 3 on 3rd and 1. Josh Huston lined up for a 48-yard field goal that would have put Ohio State up 20-17 with 5:04 remaining in the 4th quarter...and missed it to the right. The Badgers then drove 55 yards in 7 plays down to the Ohio State 15. Mark Neuser then kicked a 33-yard field goal, giving Wisconsin a 20-17 lead with 2:10 remaining.

The Buckeyes, now facing their first loss of the season, immediately attempted to drive downfield to tie or win the game and avoid a massive upset at home. Bellisari failed to complete any of his final 3 pass attempts, however, and the Badgers took over on downs on Ohio State's 39. Jim Tressel used his final timeout, but with 1:09 remaining, he no longer could stop the clock. The Badgers knelt twice, and Jim Tressel's Big Ten record took its first blow.


The Badgers, 4-3 following their upset of Ohio State in Columbus, would suffer 4 losses in their final 5 games, missing the postseason entirely. Included in that bunch was their only loss to Michigan State in Madison during the decade.

Ohio State, dragged down by the poor play of Steve Bellisari and Lydell Ross, finished 7-4 in the regular season losing to Penn State and Big Ten Champion Illinois. Despite this, the Buckeyes were able to ruin Michigan's Senior Day, before losing 31-28 to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.


main source: the ever reliable

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