It was a collective effort by Ohio State in loss to Wisconsin

CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 02: Head coach Jim Tressell of the Ohio State Buckeyes watches as his team takes on the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium on October 2, 2010 in Champaign, Illinois. Ohio State defeated Illinois 24-13. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

“Nothing against our special teams,” Pryor said, “but that really hurt us. That kicked us in our rear end.”

That was Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor following Ohio State’s devastating 31-18 loss to Wisconsin on Saturday night – a loss that will cost the Buckeyes the No. 1 spot in the top-25 rankings. What he should have said was that the entire Ohio State program, from the coaching staff to the players to the cheerleaders “really hurt us.” Because nobody, nobody, showed up for the Buckeyes in Madison.

One would have thought that after Alabama fell to South Carolina last week that Ohio State would come out a little more focused for their bout against Wisconsin. This wasn’t a letdown game against an overzealous Northwestern or Illinois team that the Buckeyes had to get through. This was a major battle against another ranked foe that so happened to also play in the Big Ten, so where was OSU’s effort?

On the opening kickoff, Jim Tressel’s vaunted special teams gave up a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, which set the table for Wisconsin the rest of the night. That’s what Pryor was alluding to when he threw his special teams under the bus, although it wasn’t just that group that failed the Buckeyes on Saturday.

OSU’s usually stingy defense was absolutely shredded by the Badgers’ rushing attack for 184 yards – 138 came the first half when Wisconsin built a 21-3 lead. The Badgers didn’t hide from who they are – they lined up toe-to-toe with the Buckeyes and punched them straight in the mouth with John Clay and James White. They didn’t try to go side to side or try to get fancy with their passing game because of whom they were facing: they went right at the Buckeyes over and over and over again, and the end result wasn’t pretty for OSU.

Tressel’s conservative approach once again reared its ugly head too. Down 21-0 in the first half, his playcalling resembled that of a coach hoping that either his backs or quarterback would trip and fall into the end zone by accident rather then fool the defense. Never did he give Pryor a run-pass option or go play action when Wisconsin loaded up to stop the run. It was pathetic and his effort cost his team a chance to get six instead of settling for just three.

Then, with 6:29 remaining in the game and the Buckeyes’ trailing by 10, Tressel decided to punt and it backfired. OSU faced a 4th-and-10 at their 29-yard line, so it was a tough call either way. But they needed points and Wisconsin was eager to run the clock out. Considering his defense had been shredded the entire night, it probably would have been best had he sent his offense back onto the field. At least that would have been the more aggressive move; nobody would have faulted him for trying to get points down 10 with only six and a half minutes left. But he didn’t and along with his team last night, he failed.

Now Oregon will have its shot at the top spot. Of course, if the Ducks play as well as the Buckeyes did Saturday night, their stay at the top will also be short lived.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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