MADISON, Wis. -- So much went wrong for the Ohio State football team on Saturday night. That's what made the second-ranked Buckeyes' elation after a 30-23 overtime victory over No.8 Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium so heartfelt.

MADISON, Wis. -- So much went wrong for the Ohio State football team on Saturday night. That's what made the second-ranked Buckeyes' elation after a 30-23 overtime victory over No.8 Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium so heartfelt.

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"I talked to the team afterwards," senior center Pat Elflein said. "I said that I've been here awhile and had a lot of teammates and been in a lot of big, special games -- and I've never felt anything like what I did tonight."

Elflein and right guard Billy Price are the only players who started for the Buckeyes the most recent time they had met the Badgers. That 59-0 demolition in the 2014 Big Ten championship game propelled Ohio State into the College Football Playoff.

Saturday night's game was nothing like that. Wisconsin (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) was off last week after a 14-7 loss at Michigan, and the Badgers used their extra preparation time wisely. On defense, they played more three-man fronts than the Buckeyes expected. They lined their linebackers wider to take away Ohio State's perimeter run game.
On offense, the Badgers repeatedly burned Ohio State (6-0, 3-0) with jet sweeps, one of the Buckeyes' staples. Corey Clement, who'd been struggling entering the game, ran 25 times for 164 yards. Freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook made some remarkable throws.

>> More coverage of the Buckeyes' overtime victory

"They did some good things against us," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. "That's a very good coaching staff. They had two weeks to prepare, and you could tell."

In the first half, Wisconsin outgained Ohio State 313-172 to take a 16-6 lead, the Buckeyes' biggest deficit this season.

"It's my job to be upset," Meyer said. "I came in there and was ready to tear into people and all that. I just saw a bunch of professionals going about their business."

>> Ohio State-Wisconsin box score

The Buckeyes made adjustments and then controlled most of the second half. They shook off an interception by J.T. Barrett in the end zone on their first possession -- the ball slipped out of his hand during the one moment all game when the expected rainstorm finally arrived -- to score touchdowns on their next two to lead 20-16.
Meanwhile, the defense buckled down, holding Wisconsin to only 11 yards in the third quarter. But the Badgers mounted their only sustained drive of the second half to go ahead 23-20 midway through the fourth quarter.

Ohio State answered with a field goal and then staved off Wisconsin on its final drive to force overtime.

In overtime, the Buckeyes were undeterred by two penalties to score. Wide receiver Noah Brown, largely an afterthought in Ohio State's offense after his four-touchdown performance against Oklahoma, beat Derrick Tindal on a fade pattern for a 7-yard score.

>> Video | Ohio State receiver Noah Brown on his TD catch in overtime.

That left it up to the defense.

>> Video | Urban Meyer talks about the OT win at Wisconsin.

"It was crazy," linebacker Chris Worley said. "It kind of reminded me of Penn State a couple years ago when we went to double overtime. It was the same feeling.

"Guys picked up their intensity, but they were still calm. That's what this game is all about -- controlled chaos."

>> Video | Ohio State defensive end Tyquan Lewis on his sack that sealed the win at Wisconsin Saturday night.

Hornibrook escaped pressure to find Rob Wheelwright for a 21-yard gain to the 4-yard line.

But then the Buckeyes stiffened. Worley stuffed Clement for no gain. On second down, Hornibrook had to throw the ball way under pressure. On third down, linebacker Jerome Baker chased down Clement before he could turn the corner.

On fourth-and-goal from the 4, the Buckeyes swarmed Hornibrook for the sack, with Tyquan Lewis getting there first.

"We all got there in an instant," Lewis said. "Oh, it's incredible. I've never had a feeling like that."

>> Photos | Ohio State 30, Wisconsin 23 (OT)

Said Meyer: "I'm very proud of my guys. We did not play well in certain areas, but man did we play hard."

The passing game remains an issue. A lot of Barrett's 226 passing yards came after improvisation. But he showed as he has throughout his career that he's at his best when it's most needed.

"Offensively, a long way to go," Meyer said. "But J.T. Barrett is one of the toughest cats I've ever been around. I know who I want under center in those type of environments: J.T. Barrett."

Barrett spoke about the rigorous offseason training the Buckeyes do, just so it'll pay off in moments of duress like Saturday night.

"We have some tough guys, some grinders, all over the place," he said. "This is the time when it shows. We talk a lot about being tough and having your brother's back and love for your unit, but you have to show it through your play, and I think it did today."

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

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