What a way for the Beavers (1-0) to kick off their 2012 campaign, by denying the Badgers (1-1) of their 34th consecutive win against a non-conference opponent and an absolute nightmare for Wisconsin who had high hopes the year.
What It Means: Prior to this game in Corvallis, multiple questions surrounded this Badgers team and now many of them have been answered. Wisconsin is not even close to being an elite program and has a lot of growth to do in 2012 and beyond. Not only did QB Danny O’Brien look flustered, the coaching staff made many play-calls that made the game almost unwatchable for some fans. Instead of being mediocre, the Badgers’ offensive line looked below average against a Beavers’ defense that’s not known as one of the better programs in the country. Beavers’ offensive stars QB Sean Mannion (30/48 for 285 yards and a touchdown), WR Markus Wheaton (eight catches for 87 yards) and WR Brandin Cooks (seven catches for 89 yards and a touchdown) moved down the field in methodical fashion. Sometimes the truth hurts, but it appears expectations need to be re-evaluated for the Badgers.
Mont-AY Heisman Watch: Barring a run of 200-yard/3+ TD performances from Ball, it’s not crazy to consider his Heisman campaign close to dead. Not only was his consecutive touchdown streak snapped at 21 games, he wasn’t able to rack up any significant yardage. Fifteen carries for 60 yards against Oregon State won’t get it done for the national media.
Player of the Game: N/A
Similar to Bret Bielema’s move to avoid giving out team MVP’s after week one, I’m not ready to give a Player of the Game Honor considering the effort the team displayed against a Beavers team making their season debut. While the defense was alright and helped the Badgers stick around, their play was nothing to commend.
Highlight of the Game: In the second quarter, Montee Ball had an elusive cut-back which resulted in a 13 yard gain. It was one of the Badgers longest plays of the game as well as one of the rare times we’ve seen vintage Ball this season.
Stat of the Game (2-of-14): For a team which led the nation in third-down efficiency in 2011, it’s hard to fathom how any Badgers squad could go 2-for-14 on the money down. Wisconsin didn’t convert a third down until the two-minute mark in the fourth quarter.
What’s Next: Things don’t get any easier for the Badgers who return to Camp Randall to take on a Utah State team who are fresh off an upset of their own, a 27-20 overtime win over Utah. If the Badgers don’t come through under the lights (7:00 PM kick-off time) next week, it just might induce a full-blown panic in Madison.
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.
Oregon State HC Mike Riley (espn.go.com)
Beaver Nation (OregonLive.com)