The Ohio State Buckeyes held off the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday for a 31-24 victory, clearing their first major hurdle to a Big Ten title. Quarterback Braxton Miller returned to action after missing a couple of games because of injury and looked no worse for wear, connecting on four touchdown throws without a single interception.
It was a big win for the Buckeyes, and an important return to form for Miller from a confidence-building perspective, but the victory was not without its setbacks. As Jeanna Thomas of Ohio State blog Land-Grant Holy Land noted afterward, the team has a big hole to fill with the loss of safety Christian Bryant, who broke an ankle and is out for the season.
Of course the one lingering concern during the post game was the loss of senior safety Christian Bryant. Maybe even more so than the on the field contributions (which were plentiful), Bryant was the emotional and often vocal leader of the secondary (and defense as a large). On a defensive unit devoid of a wealth of those types, Bryant's loss is sizable.
On the other side, Jake Kocorowski of Wisconsin blog Bucky's 5th Quarter was left looking for positives among a tough loss. He found one in the second-half performance of Wisconsin's defense, which limited Ohio State after a rough start to the night.
Despite a rough first half where the defense gave up three touchdown passes, and two turnovers were negated due to penalties called (one a a 15-yard face mask penalty against senior linebacker Conor O'Neill, and another on a muffed punt return called back due to an illegal formation penalty), Borland and company stood their ground in a gritty second-half performance as they gave up only seven points and less than 125 yards to the Buckeyes in the third and fourth quarters combined. Borland himself led this team, not only in spirit but in tackles with 16 stops, stuffing several key runs including a Herculean-like fourth-down collision with senior running back Carlos Hyde in the third quarter.
The team also got a solid effort from quarterback Joel Stave despite the fact that he didn't get much help from the Badgers' ground game.