In their first Big Ten game of the season, the Ohio State Buckeyes answered the call.
OSU (5-0, 1-0) took down Wisconsin (3-2, 1-1) 31-24, thanks in part to a huge game from quarterback Braxton Miller.
In his first action since spraining the MCL in his left knee against San Diego State, the junior helped the Buckeyes get off to a fast start Saturday night. Following a punt by the Badgers on the opening drive of the game, Miller connected with junior wide receiver Evan Spencer on a 25-yard scoring strike that gave OSU the lead 7-0.
“I think he (Miler) played very well,” OSU coach Urban Meyer said. “Braxton did have a heck of a day.”
Wisconsin would respond, though, as redshirt-senior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis caught a 36-yard touchdown pass from Badger redshirt-sophomore quarterback Joel Stave.
Miller completed his second touchdown pass of the night on OSU’s next drive, this one to junior wide receiver Devin Smith. The 26-yard reception was Smith’s fifth scoring grab of 2013.
Following a 45-yard field goal from OSU’s senior kicker Drew Basil, Stave led the Badgers on a 76-yard scoring drive, finishing it with an 11-yard pass to junior tight end Sam Arneson to cut the lead to 17-14 with less than two minutes left until half.
The OSU offense rushed down the field on the next drive, and Miller threw his third touchdown pass in the first half to senior wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown, giving the Buckeyes a 24-14 lead at halftime.
“I felt good,” Miller said after the game. “My legs felt good energy-wise. I wasn’t out of shape. I felt good.”
After another Miller-Brown connection that extended the lead to 31-14, Wisconsin’s senior running back James White scampered 17 yards to get the Badgers within 10 points again.
The two teams exchanged punts until Badger redshirt-junior kicker Kyle French made a 42-yard field goal.
OSU recovered the ensuing onside kick, but were forced to punt after a three and out. Wisconsin’s last ditch effort fell short, though, and the Buckeyes ran out the clock to secure the seven-point victory.
Miller finished the day 17-25 passing for 198 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran the ball 22 times for 83 yards.
Abbrederis had a huge game for the Badgers, finishing with 10 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown.
The game was not a total victory for OSU, as senior safety broke his left ankle on Wisconsin’s last drive of the game.
The Buckeyes travel to Northwestern (4-0) next Saturday for their second night game in a row. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.