Wisconsin traveled to Oregon State yesterday, not knowing what kind of challenge they would face. In front of 45,674 screaming fans at Reser Stadium, Oregon State pulled off the upset, defeating Wisconsin 10-7. With the loss the Badgers dropped out of this week’s AP Poll, after being ranked thirteenth last week.
It was the Beavers’ first game of the season and they came out firing on defense. In the first half, the Beaver defense limited the Wisconsin offense to just sixty-four yards and four first downs on offense. It was the first time that the Badgers have gone scoreless at halftime since playing San Diego State in September 2006.
The Badger defense did a fantastic job of keeping the team in the game as the offense struggled. The Wisconsin defense gave up 239 yards on offense, but only allowed three points. With only a 3-0 deficit going into the second half, most Badgers fans were very optimistic because it definitely could have been worse.
The Wisconsin defense broke early in the third quarter. On what looked like a missed assignment, Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks ran free and caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Sean Mannion. This was really the only miscue of the day for the Badger defense, but it was enough to extend the Beaver lead to two scores.
From there, the Badger defense set up the offense many times, but O’Brien, Ball, and the offense just couldn’t convert. It seemed that Oregon State wanted to give the game away. At one point an excessive celebration penalty allowed the Badger offense to start their drive at their own forty-one-yard line. But just three plays into the drive O’Brien threw an interception. The defense once again got a stop and the Oregon State punter let the ball slip through his hands, allowing the Badger offense to start their drive from near midfield, and they moved the ball beautifully, but O’Brien lost a fumble in the red zone, once again stopping any chance at cutting the deficit.
The Badgers finally found a way to get points late in the fourth quarter as O’Brien hit Jacob Pedersen for an eleven-yard touchdown, but it was too late. The Badgers could not recover the onside kick and the Beavers ran out the clock.
It was a humbling loss for the Badgers, who will have a lot of questions going forward. O’Brien could not get it done countless times, going 20/38 for 172 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The real shocker was that Montee Ball was totally ineffective. Play after play the Badgers offensive line got overpowered by the smaller Oregon State defensive line and Ball had nowhere to go. Ball ran fifteen times for sixty-one yards and caught four passes for nineteen yards. He only touched the football nineteen times in this game as the Badgers’ play calling was heavy in the passing favor, although some of that was to come from behind.
Bret Bielema and the Wisconsin offense will have a lot to work on for next week as they prepare to host the 2-0 Utah State Aggies at Camp Randall next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 Central time.