Ohio State coach John Cooper could only shake his head.
"Guys, it's been a long time since we've been physically whipped like that in a game," Cooper said.
Thirty-two years, to be exact.
Ron Dayne rumbled for four second-half touchdowns as Wisconsin roared back from a 17-0 deficit Saturday to beat 12th-ranked Ohio State 42-17. It was the Buckeyes' worst loss at Ohio Stadium since a 41-6 defeat against Purdue on Oct. 14, 1967.
"That was a good old-fashioned butt-kicking," Cooper said. "I'm embarrassed by the way we played in the second half. We didn't do anything right."
The Badgers (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) didn't score on their first four possessions, then rattled off 42 consecutive points by scoring the next eight times they got their hands on the ball. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes (3-2, 0-1) didn't get closer than the Wisconsin 32 in the last 40 minutes.
"We challenged the guys to stiffen up," Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said of his defense. "The kids made plays and kept the ball away from Ohio State."
Dayne managed just 36 yards on 11 attempts in the first half, but finished with 161 yards on 32 carries. He had touchdown runs of 1, 2, 3 and 11 yards and set up Eddie Faulkner's 1-yard scoring dive with a 46-yard run through the heart of Ohio State's defense late in the fourth quarter.
"I don't go out to prove something," Dayne said. "I just go out and play hard."
Wisconsin's defense completely throttled Ohio State in the second half. The Buckeyes picked up just 113 yards after halftime while the Badgers gained 292.
There was no dispute about when the momentum shifted.
Michael Wiley, who lost a fumble at the goal line early in the game, fumbled the second-half kickoff when hit by Ryan Marks, with Bobby Myers recovering at the Ohio State 14. Three plays later, Dayne scored on a 3-yard run and the tables turned.
"Seeing that come ou was a big turning point," Myers said of the fumble.
Dayne said, "The turnover on the kickoff got it started."
Ohio State's Steve Bellisari, fourth in the nation in pass efficiency, had a pass picked off by Bobby Myers at midfield late in the game, with Myers returning it 48 yards. Dayne then scored on the next play. Bellisari completed just 10-of-24 passes for 210 yards with one interception.
"The second half was kind of like Michigan State last year," Bellisari said.
Ohio State built leads of 17-3 and 24-9 at home against the Spartans last year, only to lose 28-24. That defeat ended up costing them a shot at the national championship as the Buckeyes finished No. 2 in the polls.
Wisconsin, a touchdown underdog, had lost its last two games, to Cincinnati and Michigan. The Buckeyes had won three in a row.
Alvarez surprised Ohio State by going with redshirt freshman Brooks Bollinger as his starting quarterback, instead of senior Scott Kavanagh who has a sore elbow.
Bollinger, making his first career start, completed 15-of-27 for 167 yards and ran 17 times for 78 yards.
"It was as fine an effort for a redshirt freshman in a hostile environment falling behind to a team with a football tradition to make play after play and manage the team," Alvarez said. "That's as good a job as I've seen a freshman do."
The Badgers had the upper hand in first downs (26-15), yardage (463-351), rushing yards (296-124) and an almost 11-minute advantage in time of possession.
"We would have them third-and-long or even third-and-short and they seemed to convert every time," Ohio State cornerback Nate Clements said.
Dayne moved into the No. 4 spot in NCAA Division I rushing with 5,336 yards, passing Ohio State's Archie Griffin (5,177) and Georgia's Herschel Walker (5,259). Dayne needs 944 yards to pass the major-college mark of 6,279 yards set a year ago by Texas' Ricky Williams.
Ohio State lost its Big Ten opener for the first time since falling to Wisconsin 20-16 in 1992 at Madison.
Wiley's 1-yard dive, set up by his 17-yard option pass to tight end Steve Wisniewski, gave Ohio State the only points of the first quarter.
Earlier, Wiley tried to stretch the ball over the goal line while vaulting a pileup and lost control, with Sam Mueller recovering in the end zone for the Badgers.
Bellisari's looping pass over the middle to Reggie Germany on a post pattern appeared to be intercepted by cornerback Mike Echols. But Germany pulled the ball away from the defender as he fell into the end zone for the 40-yard touchdown play and a 17-0 Ohio State lead.
The rest was all Wisconsin.
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