Big Day For Beanie
Ohio State looked much different under the lights with its new double-threat backfield.
Terrelle Pryor ran for an 11-yard touchdown with 1:08 left, and Chris ``Beanie'' Wells had 168 yards rushing and a score, lifting the 14th-ranked Buckeyes to a 20-17 victory over No. 18 Wisconsin on Saturday.
``Guys really don't know who to key on, me or Terrelle,'' Wells said. ``I like that about our offense, having two guys out there who can really run the ball.''
The last time the Buckeyes (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) played a marquee game at night, they got pounded by Southern California last month. Wells didn't play in that game and Pryor, the talented freshman, wasn't the starter.
But Wells is feeling better and Pryor is getting comfortable at quarterback.
``All the hype, and all the people saying, 'You're great,' this is the time to show it,'' Pryor said.
The 19-year-old Pryor sure did, leading Ohio State on two fourth-quarter scoring drives and snapping a 16-game home winning streak for the Badgers (3-2, 0-2). He also helped his coach, Jim Tressel, even his record at 3-3 against Wisconsin.
``Every snap he gets, he learns from. He was under duress tonight,'' said Tressel, after his first game in Madison in five years. ``They were playing hard, they were coming after him, they were going to make him do things with lots of people in his face and he's coming of age.''
Pryor did it on the game-winning drive through the air and on the ground, and before the possession he got an earful from Wells on the sideline.
``I told him, 'It's a man's world right now, and he's taking a step into manhood right now,''' said Wells, who had a 33-yard TD run in the first quarter. ``He said he was ready.''
Trailing 17-13, Pryor twice found trusted receiver Brian Hartline for big gains, even though Hartline fumbled on the second completion for 27 yards and needed teammate Brian Robiske's recovery to keep possession at the Wisconsin 35.
Wells, who has been wearing a lineman's shoe to protect his injured foot, gained 13 more yards on three carries, and Pryor added another first down on a third-and-1 sneak from the 15 with under 2 minutes to play.
``Pryor and Wells are two good players. We knew they were going to get their yards,'' linebacker Jaevery McFadden said. ``We contained them pretty well until that last drive, then we just let it get away and it hurts.''
Pryor, who finished 13-of-19 with 144 yards passing and an interception, ran an option with Wells flared out wide, but he chose to keep it himself and reached the end zone after Wisconsin's defense looked confused by the formation.
``At times we did some good things, but he's elusive, he presents a challenge,'' Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. ``In the end on the last play we weren't good enough.''
McFadden said Ohio State's late substitution confused the Badgers' defense, and Tressel was aware what was happening from the Buckeyes' sideline.
``They didn't get lined up, and we were saying, 'Snap it! Snap it!' because there wasn't anyone lined up over there,'' Tressel said.
Wisconsin quarterback Allan Evridge, who needed to play efficiently to give the Badgers a chance, committed his second turnover when Malcolm Jenkins intercepted a pass to seal the game with 53 seconds left.
``Just didn't see Jenkins,'' said Evridge, who finished 13-of-25 for 147 yards and also lost a fumble.
Pryor made his share of head-scratching freshman plays and refused to throw a pass away under pressure, taking four sacks and numerous hits. But he moved the Buckeyes in position to take its first lead since the first half, settling for Ryan Pretorius' 34-yard field goal with just under 11 minutes to play to make it 13-10.
Wisconsin, needing to rebound after a demoralizing loss to Michigan, answered with a quick drive capped on third-and-goal from the 1 when P.J. Hill powered through linebacker Ross Homan to give Wisconsin a 17-13 lead.
Hill had 63 yards on 16 carries.
That set the stage for Pryor, who snapped the Badgers' 11-game winning streak at night and handed them their first lose at Camp Randall Stadium since Nov. 12, 2005, against Iowa.
``As you sit there on the sideline, you're holding your breath on each and every play, hoping he could break one,'' Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis said.
Wells remains in awe, too.
``It was incredible the way he handled that last drive,'' he said. ``He's a special player, and he has so many great things ahead of him.''
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