Mike Fiammetta (+23): Wisconsin 42, Oregon State 24
Adam Tupitza (+26): Wisconsin 28, Oregon State 27
Sahil Shah (+26): Wisconsin 31, Oregon State 14
Phil Mitten (+27): Wisconsin 33, Oregon State 24
Nathan Palm (+27): Wisconsin 31, Oregon State 20
Andy Johnson (+33): Wisconsin 37, Oregon State 17
Jake Harris (+34): Wisconsin 31, Oregon State 17
Andrew Rosin (+37): Wisconsin 35, Oregon State 24
After a fourth quarter that made last week's final score too close for comfort, Wisconsin embarks on a substantial road trip to Pac-12 country to take on Oregon State. Since 2006, the Badgers are 1-5 in each season's first road game against an opponent from a BCS conference. Their only such win was a 31-28 decision over Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium in 2009.
Oregon State head coach Mike Riley has called this the Beavers' biggest nonconference home game in program history. Expect the Badgers to get off to a slow start in front of a hostile crowd in an unfamiliar setting. Fortunately, the game will kick off just after 3:00 p.m. Madison time, so the time zone adjustment issues that frequently plague teams traveling west for night games are not concerns.
Also good for Wisconsin is that Oregon State's first scheduled game against Nicholls State was wiped out by Hurricane Isaac. That means Saturday will present the first live game action the Beavers have faced since November 26, 2011. The Badgers' players and coaches, thus, have a huge advantage in that they have played an actual game together this season.
What is best for UW, however, is that Oregon State, while a better team than the group the Badgers shut out 35-0 at Camp Randall Stadium in 2011, is still not very good. The Beavers' defense gave up at least 21 points to every opponent on its schedule a season ago. The group does boast five senior starters in its base 4-3, including defensive tackle Andrew Seumalo and safety Anthony Watkins.
OSU managed to stall Wisconsin's running game early in last season's meeting, daring quarterback Russell Wilson to beat it with his arm. After watching Northern Iowa limit running back Montee Ball to just 3.8 yards per carry by stacking the box last week, expect the Beavers to issue a similar challenge to new quarterback Danny O'Brien. Ball is likely to look sharper, however, now that some of the rust from his long offseason layoff is gone. The Badgers' offensive line should be able to wear down the Beavers' front seven by the fourth quarter.
Offensively, Oregon State returns talented sophomore Sean Mannion, who threw for 3,328 yards in 2011. He passed for 244 yards against the Badgers last season but didn't manage to find the end zone. Mannion is prone to throwing interceptions in bunches, tossing four at Arizona State, three at Utah, and two in four other games last year. UW failed to force a turnover at home against UNI, though linebacker Mike Taylor let an interception slip through his fingers. The defense will look to be more opportunistic against the Beavers.
The OSU running back corps is deep but young. Redshirt freshman Storm Woods is expected to make his first collegiate start, and he will run behind an offensive line that features a true freshman center. The experience and savvy of the Badgers' front seven, which boasts several upperclassmen, should be able to contain Woods and Co.
The Beavers do have talent at receiver, where leading pass-catcher Markus Wheaton returns for his senior season. Wheaton hauled in 73 passes for 986 yards in 2011, but he only had one touchdown catch to show for it.
Oregon State's return men will likely challenge Wisconsin coverage units that have struggled in recent years. Jordan Poyer handles punts, while Malcolm Marable returns kicks. Badger punter Drew Meyer got good hang time on his punts in the opener and that will need to happen again.