The #8/#9 Wisconsin Badgers (2-0) received an unbelievable effort from the defense in a 35-0 shut-out of the Oregon State Beavers (0-2) in week two of the college football season.
With the win, UW recorded it’s first shut-out since the 2009 season when they blanked Purdue 37-0.
What It Means: If we learned anything from this contest, it’s that UW’s defense knows how to respond after an average performance and that they can flat out dominate. Granted Oregon State took their chances with freshman QB Sean Mannion and had some costly injuries on the offensive side, Wisconsin didn’t make any of the self-inflicted mistakes they made last week.
The spotlight should be on the defensive line as they held a Beavers team, who racked up 266 rushing yards last week, to only 23 yards on the ground today.
On the offensive side, we learned that Russell Wilson can be poised and collected in the pocket as well as down-right efficient. Wilson is now 27-of-34 for 444 yards and five touchdowns, good for a pass efficiency of 237.6 on the season.
Toon is easily the primary benefactor of Russell-Mania as Wilson looked his way multiple times regardless of how the defense was playing him. Toon took advantage of being the go-to-guy by catching seven balls (ties his career high) for 69 yards and a sensational 10-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter. With Toon developing as a threat on the outside, it could really open things up for James White and Montee Ball in the running game.
Honorable mention to tight-end Jacob Pederson who became Wilson’s safety valve against the Beavers. Badger tight-ends have come accustomed to excelling in Paul Chryst’s offense and Pederson is no different with six catches, 80 yards and two touchdowns.
In fact, Head Coach Bret Bielema mentioned how he thinks Pederson is “the most complete tight end,” this school has ever had. That’s saying a lot with four former Badger tight-ends currently on NFL rosters.
Highlight of the Game: The Badgers had some great scoring plays, but the most shocking play of the game was Oregon State’s punter, Johnny Hekker (senior) who had the “Worst Punt Ever,” resulting in -4 yards and aiding in the set-up of Wilson’s first touchdown pass to Pedersen in the first quarter.
Stat of the Game: Everyone knows UW is all about their running game, but that was not the case in the first half as the Badgers entered the locker-room with only twelve rushing yards. Yes, the number 12 which is not a typo.
All returned to normalcy in the second half though when the Badgers pounded the ball to end the game with 208 yards on the ground compared to 189 through the air.
What’s Next: The Badgers will hit the road for the first time this season to a so-called “neutral” site when they take on Northern Illinois at Soldier Field in Chicago next Saturday. Northern Illinois (1-0) is fresh off a 11-win season in 2010 and are considered to be one of the top teams in the MAC conference. Their new head coach, Dave Doeren, is the Badgers former defensive coordinator and should prove to have a game-plan in place to slow down the Badgers offense as well as expose their defense.
For Wisconsin, the NIU game is their toughest of their non-conference slate, so a win is a must if they want to stay in contention for a BCS bowl game. With Oregon State slipping to the FCS school, the Huskies may be their best bet for a resume boost.
What did you think of the Badgers strong defensive effort this week? Were you impressed with Russell Wilson’s performance? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.