INDIANAPOLIS — Wisconsin prides itself on taking three-star recruits and turning them into trusty, almost mistake-proof men of steel.

But the Badgers truly were Cheeseheads on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium with shoddy tackling and pass coverage that was missing in action that put them in a 21-7 hole in a 27-21 loss to Ohio State. Terry McLaurin ran past safety Joe Ferguson for an 84-yard touchdown catch to start things off

Then safety Natrell Jamerson and Nick Nelson whiffed one right after the other in the flat when Parris Campbell scored on a 57-yard reception. On a 77-yard run by J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State’s offensive line looked like a crew sweeping the street after a block party in pushing them to the right.

Shining moments

Jersey sales with the name of backup linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel might pick up in the weeks leading to bowl season after he turned into a mini J.J. Watt in the first half. First, he drifted into coverage underneath and intercepted a pass by J.T. Barrett and returned it 9 yards for a touchdown. Van Ginkel set up a field goal by ripping the ball out of the arms of Mike Weber and then recovering at the Ohio State 11. An interception by linebacker Jake Collinsworth at the Wisconsin 48 led to a touchdown and two-point conversion that made it 24-21 with 12:39 left to play.

What went right

The Badgers were at their best in play-action and screens, with quarterback Jeff Hornibrook making Ohio State’s front four hesitate on completions of 16, 20, 25 and 9 yards to start the game. Punter Anthony Lotti’s high kicks — the roof was closed — resulted in four being downed inside the 20 in the first half. A 50-yarder was downed at the 12 with 3:20 left. Linebacker Garret Dooley broke through to throw Barrett for a 2-yard loss to the 10 in the third quarter that eventually forced Ohio State to try a field goal. A nifty 9-yard pass by Garrett Groshek to Hornibrook after a handoff set up a touchdown and two-point conversion that got the Badgers within 24-21.


“All of that stuff comes down to playing the game and we didn’t make enough plays to win. We didn’t need tonight – to win or lose – to know that I love this group appreciate what this group does and how it goes about it. It’s a group that is all in. That’s what makes it hard. They are in pain. They battled until the end. They gave themselves a chance until the end.’’ — Paul Chryst 

Question mark

There were questions about sophomore Hornibrook’s accuracy before kickoff despite a 63.9 percent completion rate because of 13 interceptions in only 244 throws. Buckeyes cornerback Denzel Ward made it No. 14 in the first quarter when Hornibrook threw well short of 6-foot-6 tight Troy Fumagalli at the 4-yard line, and Damon Webb got No. 15 with a pick with 1:09 left.

Star power

Freshman tailback Jonathan Taylor had to see his chances of winning the Heisman Trophy stiff-armed in running for 41 yards on 15 carries. This is the player who has had gains of 64, 80, 75, 67, 52 and 53 yards and running days of 249 yards against Nebraska, 218 against Purdue and 187 against Indiana just for starters.

Statistically speaking

Wisconsin gave up three sacks and Hornibrook was hurried many other times. The Badgers had allowed a Big Ten-low 17 sacks the first 12 games.