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J.J. Watt talking to reporters after UW’s 31-18 upset of OSU.


John Clay talking to reporters after UW’s 31-18 upset of OSU.


Scott Tolzien talking to reporters after UW’s 31-18 upset of OSU.

Two weeks ago, the No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers (6-1, 2-1) looked nothing like a squad capable of knocking off the Big Ten’s elite, let alone the No. 1 team in the nation.

Saturday night, behind some inspired running from John Clay and a confident secondary, they did just that.

Wisconsin finally put forth a complete effort for 60 minutes, jumping on the scoreboard from the opening kick and never letting go, defeating the No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes (6-1, 2-1) 31-18 at Camp Randall Stadium.

The Badgers put together as complete a game as anybody could’ve asked for, running back the opening kick for a touchdown, outgaining the vaunted Buckeye offense and shutting down Heisman hopeful quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Wisconsin proved after that Oct. 2 debacle at Michigan State, that Madison had a squad that was capable of so much more.

Simply put, the Badgers taught Ohio State how to Bucky.

For the Badgers, getting a lead from the start – at home, at night, on national TV – paid dividends of immense proportions. Wisconsin hadn’t beaten Ohio State since their 2004 meeting in Columbus, and Bret Bielema was severely lacking a signature win in his five years as UW head coach. The last three games the two squads played in Madison were decided by a total of 15 points, and the Badgers won only one.

“It’s another step in the right direction,” Bielema said. “Again, we’re only three games into the Big Ten schedule. We’ve done some good things, but to beat the No. 1 team and beat a ranked opponent, all that people talk about, it’s good. …I’m happy for the people that are involved. The bigger picture, it’s going to be a nice reward for us, but to see your players play the way you coach them to play, and to see the guys execute against good personnel, is really rewarding.”

Throughout the night it became quite clear that star running back John Clay – somewhat misaligned after seeing backup James White earn more carries – was running with a purpose. Both Clay and White had outstanding games, but it was Clay who provided that tough, powerful Wisconsin identity with 104 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.

“Coach B talked about it in the beginning of the week, how it’s going to take the guys up front to get everything going,” Clay said. “They took that as a challenge, they took care of their business and that’s when everything was able to happen.”

Indeed, it may have been Bielema’s challenge to his offensive linemen – something he admitted to after the game – that provided the spark Wisconsin needed. After some inconsistent performances – most notably against Michigan State – the offensive line needed a statement game to live up to the accolades it had garnered across the nation. Even Clay recognized the line’s importance, shaving the numbers of the Badgers’ five starting offensive linemen into his hair before the game.

“I told them I would do something special for them, and I did it for them [today],” Clay said.

But the Badger defense was not about to be overshadowed. Pryor was held to only 156 yards passing on 14 of 28 passing, threw one interception and no touchdowns. Perhaps even more significantly, the Buckeye dual-threat weapon totaled only 56 rushing yards on 18 attempts.

“I think, defensively, we stepped it up to a whole other notch, man,” safety Aaron Henry said. “They were talking about how great Ohio State’s wide receivers were, and how great their passing game was, and nobody gave credit to our secondary. I know week in and week out, and even last year, nobody really gives credit to our secondary. So for us to go out there and play the way we did – we knew Terrelle Pryor’s weakness, we knew that once he starts scrambling, we were going to stay on our man and when he crossed that line of scrimmage, we were going to go try and tackle him.”

Clearly, Henry’s sense of confidence was pervasive throughout the Wisconsin sideline Saturday and in the end, the Badgers produced a victory for the ages.

“It was bizarre and all a blur,” linebacker Blake Sorensen, who recorded a game high 10 tackles and intercepted Pryor to seal the victory. “Being mobbed, it was just a ton of fun. It’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.”