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September 29, 2013

Miller returns as Buckeyes hold off Badgers

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - There is no quarterback controversy in Columbus as Braxton Miller passed for four touchdowns and 198 yards as the Buckeyes held on for a 31-24 win over Wisconsin (3-2, 1-1) as Ohio State (5-0, 1-0) opens the Big Ten season with a divisional win in a chase for a berth in the league title game.

Carlos Hyde ran for 85 yards and Miller chipped in for 83 yards as the Buckeye defense held the Badgers to 104 net yards on the ground and Melvin Gordon was well off his pace with 74 yards and James White had 31 on the ground.

The Ohio State defense took a major hit however when team captain Christian Bryant broke his ankle in the final minute of the game and head coach Urban Meyer announced that Bryant would be lost for the season.

"Just tough news," Meyer said after the game. "That's the hardest part of this whole job is to see - I'm not sure everyone understands what goes into playing a football game, the training and work eithic and all that. My goodness, just love that kid."

The Buckeyes had just gotten healthy with the return of Miller, Michael Bennett and Adolphus Washington to the lineup.

Many people were curious if the Buckeyes would play both Miller and Kenny Guiton who led the Buckeyes in his absence. Miller saw all the snaps in the game but was sure to praise Kenny after the game and called him his big brother on the team.

"I felt pretty good," Miller said after the game. "My leg felt good, energy-wise, I wasn't out of shape."

The Badgers had not allowed a passing touchdown in the first four games of the season and that streak was snapped at the 12:18 mark of the first quarter when Miller found Evan Spencer from 25-yards out to cap off a four play, 55-yard drive.

Ohio State did not have an answer for Jared Abbrederis who went off for 207 yards on 10 receptions and a touchdown. The former walk-on had the game tying score that made it 7-all but he ran open for a good amount of the game and Bradley Roby and the defense did not have much of an answer for him as the Badgers looked good in the passing game when the Buckeyes took away the run game.

"I think a lot of that had to do with us," defensive end Adolphus Washington said about the Badgers passing more than expected. 'We prepared this week to stop the run and we did. Thy had to adjust and made the decision to throw the ball more."

Quarterback Joel Stave ended the night going 20-34 for 295 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

"(Abbrederis), he's got my vote for all-Big Ten," Meyer said after the game.

It appeared that the Buckeyes had the game iced when the team went up 31-14 in the 3rd quarter when Corey Brown hauled in his second touchdown reception of the game from Miller but the Badgers would not go away and scored the last ten points of the game and had a chance to recover an onside kick to make things interesting.

The Badgers would get the ball back with less than 90 seconds remaining in the game and were never able to get out of the shadow of their own endzone. It was on one of the final plays that Bryant was hurt and x-rays after the game confirmed that he would be lost for the year.

"Everyone's hurt about it, especially me because he's my cousin," receiver Devin Smith said. "I'm very tight with him. He's worked his tail off and just wanted to have a great season."

Wisconsin outgained the Buckeyes by nine yards on the evening but came up short by seven points and games are decided by points and not yards and the Badgers now are in the hole for the Big Ten Leader's division race.

"We have to be able to make it difficult," Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen said afterwards. "I am proud of the way the kids fought, they never gave up, they found a way to scratch and get back into the football game."

With the win the Buckeyes now have a 17-game winning streak, tied for fourth longest in program history. The Buckeyes will have a chance to add to it next week when they travel to Evanston (Ill.) to take on the Northwestern Wildcats with the game kicking off at 8:00pm (EDT).



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