Montee Ball set out to make history on Saturday, and he did just that. But after Wisconsin forced overtime with a rousing 14-point comeback, Ball's record-tying 78th career touchdown was the lone positive the Badgers took home after a 21-14 loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Ball entered the day with 77 career rushing touchdowns, and his seven-yard rush in the second quarter tied the senior running back with Travis Prenctice (Miami of Ohio, 1996-99) for the NCAA record. Wisconsin's star running back finished with 191 yards on 39 carries (4.9 yards per) and one touchdown. He had a crack at the record-breaking touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but fumbled on a carry from OSU's 1-yard line with 3:07 remaining.
After recovering the fumble at their own 6-yard line, the Buckeyes managed to gain just four yards before punting the ball over to the Badgers with 1:33 left on the clock. Wisconsin quarterback Curt Phillips then led UW on a nine-play, 41-yard drive that was capped with a five-yard pass to tight end Jacob Pedersen with eight seconds remaining. Phillips, in his second career start, finished 14-of-25 with 154 yards and one touchdown.
But the Buckeyes needed only four plays -- all rushes -- to score in overtime. The Badgers gained six yards on the subsequent first down, but after Ball lost two yards on a third-down rush, Wisconsin faced a 4th-and-6 from Ohio State's 21-yard line. Phillips targeted Pedersen with a short throw, though the ball ultimately bounced away and handed the Buckeyes their 11th win of the season.
The two teams fought punch-for-punch for most of the game, which was scoreless until the 1:58 mark in the first quarter. OSU punt returner Philly Brown took a punt from Drew Meyer 68 yards for a touchdown, giving the Buckeyes a 7-0 lead and temporarily stifling a raucous Camp Randall Stadium crowd.
After a three-and-out by Wisconsin, Ohio State began its first second-quarter drive at its own 31-yard line. Quarterback Braxton Miller led an eight-play, 69-yard drive that culminated in a 15-yard rushing touchdown by running back Carlos Hyde. Miller, the dual-threat quarterback widely tabbed as the most central player to the game's outcome, finished 10-of-18 with 97 yards, as well as 48 rushing yards on 23 attempts (2.1 yards per). Hyde, meanwhile, dealt several back-breaking runs to the Badgers, rushing for 87 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries (5.8 yards per).
OSU led 14-0 after Hyde's touchdown run, though Ball added his record-tying score with 7:30 remaining in the second quarter. Ball, one of nine Wisconsin seniors playing in their last home game, capped an eight-play, 82-yard scoring drive with a seven-yard rush.
With Ohio State holding a 14-7 lead at halftime, neither team scored in a roughneck third quarter. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Wisconsin kicker Kyle French missed a 40-yard field goal after a 15-play, 62-yard drive. The Badgers then endured two more unsuccessful drive before tying the game with eight seconds left.