After narrowly escaping an upset bid from FCS-level Northern Iowa, the #13 Wisconsin Badgers are west-coast bound where they will meet the Pac-12’s Oregon State Beavers. This will be the Badgers (1-0) first ever trip to Corvallis to take on a Beavers (0-0) squad making their season debut.
The Badgers took care of business against Oregon State last season, a 35-0 thumping at Camp Randall.
Oregon State Beavers (0-0) Analysis: Due to the wrath of Hurricane Isaac, the Beavers’ game last Saturday with Nicholls State was postponed. Oregon State is coming off a 3-9 season in which they deployed a very young team. In fact, they return 14 starters from a season ago, including their top passer, rusher and receiver.
Sophomore quarterback Sean Mannion (pictured above) is on the rise after having a full year of experience under his belt. He helped the Beavers average 286.8 passing yards per game which ranked 19th in the nation. Mannion didn’t have a bad day in Madison last year, completing 25-of-38 passes for 244 yards. His top target in Markus Wheaton returns (eight catches for 83 yards vs. Badgers in 2011) and the Beavers’ leading rusher Malcolm Agnew will also suit up.
Oregon’s States biggest obstacle will be fixing their run defense that ranked 101st in the nation (196.8 rushing yards per game). Montee Ball and company carved up the Beavers to a tune of 208 yards last year.
Wisconsin Badgers (1-0) Analysis: UW may have dropped in the polls (from 12 to 13), but the most important takeaway from a disappointing win over Northern Iowa is that it was indeed a win. The Badgers season could have been derailed big time with a humiliating loss to a FCS team at home. This week, they have the opportunity to pick up a solid road win against a BCS team.
Last week, Heisman hopeful Montee Ball rushed for 120 yards on 32 carries and scored a touchdown to extend his streak to 21 straight games with a score. His 3.2 yards per carry didn’t blow anyone away, but it also didn’t take him off the radar for college football’s most prestigious award. Expect Ball to have an even more dynamic impact against the Beavers who are absolutely dreadful against the run.
Wisconsin’s star against Northern Iowa was new quarterback Danny O’Brien who appeared to be as good as advertised. He commanded the huddle and completed 82 percent of his passes while throwing for two scores. Oregon State has a decent secondary, so another good week for O’Brien would be encouraging.
Improvement will be most critical for UW’s defense who gave up three second-half touchdowns to Northern Iowa which allowed them to get back in the game. Instead of playing 40 solid minutes of football, the defensive unit will be looking for a more complete effort.
Prediction: Wisconsin 28 Oregon State 10
I do expect the Badgers to win their twelfth straight regular season non-conference game on the road, but not in shut-out fashion. I haven’t seen enough out of the Badgers to think they will go over 30 points, but I do think the defense will respond to the costly errors they committed against UNI. While the Beavers have a shot at making this a game, their run-defense is way too large of a liability when playing the Badgers.
TV Coverage: FX at 3:00 PM Central Time
Betting Lines: Badgers favored by 7 points and over/under set at 49.5 points.
2012 Record straight up: 1-0
2012 Record against the spread: 0-0
2012 Record in over/under: 0-0
Do you think the Beavers have any chance of knocking off the Badgers at home? Can the Badgers rebound from a disappointing showing in week one? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.
Montee Ball (Wisconsin Badgers Official Facebook Page)
Sean Mannion – (nwsportsbeat.com)Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks