2010 Loss in Madison Brewed Contempt for Wisconsin
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State’s irreconcilable rivalry with Michigan has been simmering for 115 years. Even when one team is down for an extended period of time, the hatred and vitriol between the two programs is always a dormant volcano simply waiting to erupt.
For fans in Columbus and Ann Arbor, there is nothing quite like “The Game,” which has been played on the final Saturday of the regular season every year since 1935. But not all rivalries are fueled by history.
Some hatred can be born over night.
“I don’t want to go on record saying I hate Wisconsin more than Michigan, but I hate Wisconsin just as much as Michigan,” OSU wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown said this week.
“Ever since I’ve been here, they’ve been a nightmare. They ruined our perfect season.”
To clear up any confusion, the Buckeyes are still undefeated and ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press Top-25 Poll. They are 10-0 under first-year head coach Urban Meyer, and with a win over the Badgers on Saturday, Ohio State would be hosting Michigan in the finale with an undefeated season on the line.
OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor leaves the field in defeat after the 2010 game in Madison.
Photo by Jim Davidson
But the Buckeyes were also undefeated two years ago when they made the trip to Madison as the newly-ranked No. 1 team in the country. With Terrelle Pryor running the offense, Ohio State had outscored its first six opponents by a combined score of 259-
“For me, personally, my freshman year when they ruined our perfect season, it put a bad taste in my mouth right away,” said Brown, a junior out of Pennsylvania who currently leads the Buckeyes with 48 catches in 10 games this season.
“You develop how much you like a team on first impressions. That was my first game against Wisconsin, so that put them up there with Michigan.”
Brown was watching from the sideline as Wisconsin wideout David Gilreath returned the opening kickoff of the game 97 yards for a touchdown. It was only the second time Ohio State had trailed in a game since Lamar Miller went 88 yards on a kick return back in week two.
It was a stunning start for the undefeated Buckeyes, but things would only get worse from there. The Badgers’ rushing attack drove right down the field on Ohio State’s vaunted defense for two more first-half touchdowns, as the No. 1 team in the country was teetering on a knockout heading into halftime.
“It wasn’t pretty watching from the sideline,” said defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who was also a freshman on that team.
“There’s just something about Wisconsin. We all just feel a certain way about them.”
Typically, that feeling is described as a mixture of respect and competitive fury. There’s no question the Buckeyes have some reverence for what Wisconsin has accomplished over the last decade under Barry Alvarez and then Bret Bielema, but this current group fees about as strongly about “the team way up north” as they do about anyone else on their schedule.
“We’ve had a big rivalry with them, almost as big since I’ve been here as the team up north,” senior linebacker/fullback Zach Boren said.
“Especially the past two years. After that 2010 game where we were No. 1 in the country and went up there and got beat, there was just a bad taste in our mouth. Ever since then, we've just had this little rivalry with them.
“I'm sure they're excited as well to play us.”
Even though they ended Ohio State’s perfect season in 2010, the Badgers have to feel like they still owe the Buckeyes for what happened last season in Columbus. Wisconsin was coming off its first loss of the season at Michigan State, after running over everyone else on the schedule in the first half of last season.
hauls in the game-winning catch against Wisconsin last year.
Photo by Dan Harker
They fell behind early, but rallied to take the lead in the fourth quarter on two late touchdown catches by Jared Abbrederis. That’s when Braxton Miller pulled out his hero card on a 40-yard touchdown to Devin Smith, who had gotten behind Wisconsin’s defense with less than a minute to play.
“I’m sure they probably hate us, too, but I really don’t care what they think,” said Hankins, a junior of Michigan.
“I really don’t like them, to tell you the truth. How they did us in 2010, I didn’t really like that.”
That Ohio State team would go on to win every other game on the schedule. They outscored their opponents 196-45 over the next five games before knocking off Ryan Mallett and a high-powered Arkansas team in the Sugar Bowl.
“We felt my sophomore year that we should have been playing in the national championship (game) that year,” Boren said.
“We thought we were the best team, and we went up there (to Wisconsin) and it was a different story.”
It’s been two years, and a lot has happened at Ohio State. That 2010 season has since been vacated, and the Buckeyes are on their third head coach in as many seasons. That doesn’t mean guys have forgotten the way they felt walking off the field at Camp Randall Stadium.
“It’s amazing to hear our players talk about it,” head coach Urban Meyer said.
“I think whenever you have two good teams who have played for a lot the past three or four years -- if that's considered bad blood, I think it's an intense respect.”
Meyer said he could tell this game meant something extra to his players by the way they came back to practice on Monday after the bye week.
“A lot of guys, especially seniors, continually think about that (game) and don’t want it to happen again,” fifth-year senior Travis Howard said this week.
“Especially with the perfect season we’re having.”
And even more importantly, with the team they are playing against.
“I don’t like Wisconsin,” Corey Brown added, “and I don’t think anyone does around here.”
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