Wisconsin sacked Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion three times in their 35-0 Week 2 win last season. What will change when the two teams meet again this weekend?
You know all about Wisconsin's Week 1 opener against Northern Iowa. It was ugly, too close for comfort and a stark reminder that a return trip to the Rose Bowl is still a long way way.
Oregon State, on the other hand, had its opener postponed by Hurricane Isaac. The Beavers are still looking for an opportunity to self-evaluate following last year's 3-9 campaign. All three of those wins came in Pac-12 play, and their trip to Camp Randall Stadium ended in a 35-0 Week 2 rout.
This year, the Badgers are the ones making the trip, all the way out west to Corvallis, Ore. To get a grasp on what's fair to expect come Saturday at Reser Stadium, we reached out to SB Nation's fine Oregon State blog, the aptly titled Building The Dam. Pretty sure I could've used some of their expertise here in D.C. this summer. Anyway, they've already run our Badgers Q&A, and you can check that out right here. Don't forget to check the jump for the rest of the questions, and head over to BTD for more Oregon State coverage.
1. B5Q: It seems only natural to begin with the postponement of the Beavers' season-opener. What, if any, effect has it had on the team. Would a tune-up for Wisconsin been nice, even though the Badgers are considerable favorites?
BTD: The postponement took a lot of momentum out of a team that was already practice-sour, and was already really in need of seeing someone else before last week's disruptions developed.
Also, as you probably recognized in Wisconsin's opener, there's always things you didn't anticipate that come to the surface in the first game. The Badgers I'm sure are addressing some of these details this week, while the Beavers have yet to learn what some of their issues are.
2. B5Q: What's expected from Sean Mannion at quarterback this year? What's reasonable, and what would be a best-case scenario?
BTD: Expectations are better accuracy and especially quicker decision making. Hopefully, good decisions. Best case scenario is probably an upset or two, and no non-competitive games, which would translate to an above .500 record, and a better than last choice bowl game.
3. B5Q: Last year's meeting between these two teams in Madison was a 35-0 rout for the Badgers. Is there anything the Beavers might glean from that and apply to this year? A shutout is, well, a shutout, but could things be different in Corvallis?
BTD: Things should be better this year, in part because the game is in Corvallis (most of the completely non-competitive games, the Wisconsin game included, were on the road), and mostly because a great number of players who were in their first or second game have a season of experience now. More of the intended starters are healthy than last year at this time as well.
4. B5Q: What kind of offense will Oregon State run this year, and is it any different than last year's? Is Mannion the undisputed starter? Badgers fans saw what seemed like an odd rotation between himself and Ryan Katz in Madison last year. Katz has since transferred to San Diego State.
BTD: It will be the same offense, scheme wise. Coach Mike Riley doesn't change things much. But Riley has taken over play calling, so the mix of those play could be better. And the offense will know who is playing quarterback.
At the time we met last year, no one, Mannion and the rest of the offense included, except Riley knew he was about to become "the guy". Riley became fascinated with Mannion in camp, but totally botched the switch, something even he later admitted.
You guys saw the last of Katz, as neither he nor anyone else but Mannion took a snap the rest of the season. So he did opt to transfer to San Diego St., where he's now the Aztec's starter.
Mannion is now firmly established as the starter, or at least we believe so (Everyone in the Pac-12 thought Katz was at this time last year, though, so who really knows?, and Storm Woods is the starting running back, a position which was also completely up in the air in Madison.
5. B5Q: Defensively, how will the Beavers aim to stop the Badgers? Last week, Danny O'Brien was sharp in his debut, while the running game was slow to develop. If Oregon State prevents big pass plays, how close can they keep this game?
BTD: Defensively, Oregon St.'s defense is all about gap cancellation. They will try to take away inside running lanes. Whether they can do so instead of getting bulldozed by that huge Wisconsin line is one of the keys to the game.
The Oregon St. secondary is one of the stronger position groups on the team, led by CB Jordan Poyer, arguably the best player on the team. But we noticed how sharp O'Brien was as well, and that's a concern. The Badgers may never make a mistake to take advantage of.
Oregon St.'s ability to stay in the game probably has a lot more to do with their making big pass plays (WR's Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks are, along with Poyer, the best players on the team).
6. B5Q: My memory fails me -- how well do Oregon State fans travel? Will there be a fair contingent in Camp Randall on Saturday?
BTD: Oregon St. fans travel pretty well, but I doubt there will be any at Camp Randall Saturday. They do know where the game is being played, even if a lot of them showed up at Reser Stadium in Corvallis last Saturday to tail-gate, despite the fact that there was only a practice instead of a game to watch.
7. B5Q: Are Beavers fans holding out any hope for an upset? You never know, right? Especially considering Wisconsin far from handled Northern Iowa.
BTD: There is some hope, given the expectations of improvement by a lot of the first year players from last year, and more than a week ago, given that Wisconsin didn't overwhelm Northern Iowa. There are some matchups that favor Oregon St. But realistic Beavers realize a win is pretty unlikely. A good, competitive game would be encouraging, and a better expectation.