MADISON, Wis. -- This just in: The Badgers can play a little bit of defense too.
A little over a week after the Wisconsin defense admitted they weren’t prepared for UNLV’s offensive attack, the unit shutdown the Beavers’ struggling offense and the Badgers comfortably handled Oregon State 35-0 Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium.
Oregon State head coach Mike Riley used two quarterbacks in the game, switching them mid-series at times. Ryan Katz got the start, but Sean Mannion came in three plays into OSU’s first series and played the majority of the game.
Quite frankly, it didn’t matter who was at quarterback.
"As long as I’ve been coaching defensive football, if people are able to run the football you’re not going to be a very good football team," Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said. "I challenged our defensive staff and players … and we gave up some free yardage last week but this week we really did a great job during (the course of the week). What was great about today was the way we practiced reinforces what we did today."
The Badgers only allowed 21 rushing yards in the game and only 282 total yards in the game.
"It was great to get the shutout," Wisconsin safety Aaron Henry said. "As you could see, we definitely picked up the intensity on defense. We made some corrections from last week. Guys were just out there flying around."
It should be noted that the Beavers played without freshman running back Malcolm Agnew who gained 223 yards in the season opener but suffered an injured hamstring in practice this week. That, and the fact Oregon State was trailing for most of the game, resulted in the Beavers throwing the ball 41 times. Mannion finished the game 25-for-38 with 244 yards.
So was too much made of Wisconsin's defensive struggles against UNLV?
"Yeah, you got to have poise. I think internally we were concerned, but we weren't worried," linebacker Chris Borland said. "We just righted the ship and it wasn't too far off course anyway, so we're all right."
Borland and Mike Taylor finished the game with a team-high nine tackles each. Taylor also had a sack and both were credited with another half of a tackle for loss. David Gilbert and Beau Allen also had sacks.
Overall, it was a good confidence boost for a unit that has a tough test awaiting it against a potent Northern Illinois offense next week at Soldier Field in Chicago.