#8 Wisconsin Breaks Down Oregon St.

Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson dissected Oregon St.'s defense in the Badgers' 35-0 win over the Beavers.

Final Score: Wisconsin 35 Oregon St. 0

Oregon St. couldn't catch a break, suffering further injuries during the week and in the game, but they gave several to Wisconsin, making mistakes on special teams, and bad decisions on third and fourth down time and time again.

Against the #8 team in the nation, a nearly perfect game is required to be competitive. Beavers coach Mike Riley's game plan was anything but perfect, and neither was the team's execution.

Wisconsin needed much of the first half to fully diagnose how to handle the Beavers, due in large measure to the near mirror image of the schemes the teams run. Nothing the Badgers did was a surprise, but once they got their execution down, it was no contest.

Russell Wilson led a dominating offense, while the Wisconsin defense pitched a shutout. Oregon St. put up a struggle at times in the first half, but never really even threatened the Badgers.

Ryan Katz started the game for Oregon St., promptly got a first down, and got pulled! Sean Manion came in and nearly threw 2 interceptions in 3 plays.

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Oregon St. had actual safety help with coverage! Jordan Poyer, with Anthony Watkins coming over, had effective coverage early, breaking up a pass to Nick Toon, above, and Wisconsin was forced to punt on their first possession. It would be the first and last really effective pass coverage the Beavers would play until the game was out of hand.

Manion started the second series, but Brandon Cooks dropped the pass. A throw at Marcus Wheaton met with very good coverage. And Johnny Hekkar delivered a minus 4 yard rugby style punt that was not blocked, and not needed, as there was no pressure from Wisconsin, who was set up for a return.

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The defensive line shut down the Wisconsin rushing game early, but Wilson hit TE Jacob Pederson, above, on a crossing route for the touchdown that put the Badgers up 7-0 three and a half minutes into the game. A total gift off the worst punt of Hekkar's career.

Manion nearly got picked off again, but settled down and got a first down. The drive stalled, however, and that time Hekkar delivered a brilliant kick, which Poyer downed at the Badger 6 yard line.

The short, west-coast style slant, swing, and hitch passing game worked well for Wisconsin. But Rusty Ferrando's best play as a Beaver so far produced the drive stopping sack, just across midfield, and the Badgers led only 7-0 after one quick quarter, as a result of the gift whoever decided on the rugby style punt gave them.

Wilson was 6 of 7 in the first quarter, for 63 yards and the touchdown, but the Badgers only had 3 yards rushing.

Katz was reinserted on second and 11 early in the second quarter, for one play, in order to run the ball. Manion came back in, and completed a pass to Colby Prince well short of the first down that had no chance to be extended. The play calling had to be confusing Wisconsin, because it was certainly confusing every one else.

Gradually, the Wisconsin short passing game underneath the coverage became more effective. The Oregon St.'s defense's success against the run was in part a product of linebacker help. The price for that was the space under the coverage. And when the Beavers attempted to tighten that up, it set up the deep fade, and Wilson found Nick Toon behind Rashaad Reynolds for the 10 yard touchdown that opened a 14-0 Wisconsin lead midway in the second quarter.

Wisconsin pinned Oregon St. at their own 3 yard line, when Keynan Parker foolishly fielded the kickoff at the Beavers' 3 yard line. Another consequence of not having James Rodgers ready to play yet.

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Manion, above, made the best throw of his career so far, finding Jordan Bishop for his first catch of the game, to get Oregon St. out of the shadow of their own goal line. Bishop's high school teammate Jordan Jenkins followed up with a good run, and West Salem High had the Beavers rolling.

Then, freshman guard Josh Andrews suffered an apparently significant injury to his right knee. And Oregon St. had 4 originally walk-on linemen playing. And Manion got sacked. And then threw another third down pass that had no chance of being completed, or coming anywhere near a first down.

After Oregon St. allowed only 44 rushing yards in the first 28 minutes of the game, Wisconsin finally got their rush blocking angles figured out, and Montee Ball broke off 21 and 13 yard gains. Three plays later, Wilson found Pederson on another crossing route, this one behind a clearing cross route that cleared all three linebackers, and the Badgers took a 21-0 lead 27 seconds before halftime.

Manion found Bishop for 24 yards across midfield, but a holding penalty negated Cooks' catch that would have put the Beavers into field goal range, and clock mismanagement meant the Beavers didn't even get one last long pass play off.

Wilson was 12 of 14 for 124 yards and 3 touchdowns in the first half. Manion was 7 of 16 for 80 yards. The Badgers held the ball 18:20 of the first half, nearly 7 minutes more than the Beavers.

Ball led all rushers at the break, with 43 yards, and James White added 33, as the Beaver defense allowed only 85 total yards rushing in the first half. 70 came on the last drive before the break. Jenkins led Oregon St., with 13 yards. The Beavers only ran for 11 total yards, as Terron Ward had 0 yards on 2 carries.

Oregon St., worst in the Pac-10 last year at third down defense, hit a new low against Wisconsin, who converted 8 of 10 in the first half, including all 3 of the scores.

The Oregon St. play by play didn't even bother to come back on the air until after Wisconsin had run 3 plays. No part of the Oregon St. operation can seem to function on a professional level this season.

Poyer picked up a personal foul for a pointless late hit, sparking an already impressive first Badger drive into a touchdown, as White and Ball broke off back to back runs of 12 and 19 yards to take a 28-0 lead less than 3 minutes into the second half.

Manion found Wheaton and Bishop for good gains, and the Beavers drove into Badger territory. And Katz reappeared! For one handoff! Which Wisconsin was all over.

Manion came right back in, and threw a 2 yard completion on 3rd. and 11, killing yet another initially encouraging Oregon St. drive.

Oregon St. finally had another good defensive series, for the first time since the first quarter, forcing a three and punt. But a desperate (and foolhardy) fourth and two gamble in their own territory gets Cooks thrown out of bounds for a loss on a fly sweep, and Wisconsin took over on the Oregon St. 43.

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Ball converted a fourth down and one into a 25 yard gain, to go over the 100 yard mark for the game, and reached the Oregon St. one yard line as the third quarter ended.

The "jump around" between quarters further shook up an already shaky Beaver squad, and on fourth and one, Ball leaped in for his second score of the day, pushing the Badgers out to a 35-0 lead.

Andrews reappeared on the Oregon St. sideline, in street clothes, and on crutches.

The theme of bad news negating any good news continued after Manion, who finally found some rhythm, compleing 10 of 11 passes, found Bishop for a 28 yard completion. It was Bishop's 6th. catch, for what would be a game high 104 yards, and an solid 17.3 yard per catch average.

But Bishop then limped out of the game, with an injured right ankle. Manion came back with a 15 yard completion to Wheaton, playing despite bruised ribs.

However, the drive stalled when Manion was hit while throwing. Beaver center Grant Johnson caught the ball in the air, but then proceeded to fumble it, and the Badgers took over on their own 13 yard line.

Pederson, who had 8 career catches coming into the game, escaped linebacker coverage for his 5th catch of the game, and 34 yards. Pederson would finish with 6 catches.

Wisconsin couldn't sustain a drive, but the catch and run tipped field position, as the Badgers downed their punt at the Beaver 1 yard line.

Manion got Oregon St. out of the shadow of their goal post with a pair of completions to Wheaton, who finished with a game high 8 catches, for 83 yards.

Katz got another single play, and got the Beavers into another third and one situation, which Manion converted, with Kevin Cummings' first career catch.

Katz got 11 yards on another single play running appearrance, but a sack of the immobile Manion led to a 4th down and 8, on which Manion threw a completion for only 2 yards.

Wisconsin called off the dogs with 2:38 left, and on the Beavers' last possession, Obum Gwacham got his first career catch, and his first first down. But Manion got the Beavers no further than the Badger 30 yard line, as Riley gave up, electing to not use a remaining time out to try and avert the shutout, the Beavers' first to a non-conference opponent in a quarter century.

Literally thousands of Wisconsin fans proceeded to linger and listen to their band lead a 5th. quarter party the likes of which hasn't been seen at a Pac-12 venue.


Wilson finished with 17 completions on 21 attempts, for 189 yards. Ball finished with 118 yards on 18 carries, to lead a Badger rushing game that rolled up only 208 yards. Oregon St.'s run defense was one of the brighter spots for the Beavers, exceeding expectations (considering the average size of the Wisconsin offensive line, which averages 6'5" and 320 lbs.) for the second week in a row.

Toon had 7 catches to lead Wisconsin in receptions.

For Oregon St., Manion finished having completed 25 of 38 passes, for 244 yards. Katz completed 2 of 3 passes, for 17 yards.

Oregon St.'s passing definitely improved in the second half, but only after Wisconsin was in clock-ball mode, with an insurmountable lead established.

The push the Oregon St. offensive line generated against Sacramento St. was non-existant against Wisconsin, and the Beavers ran for just 21 yards, after having produced the NCAA leading opening day rushing total for Malcolm Agnew, who missed the trip to Madison with a pulled hamstring suffered Monday in practice, against the Hornets.

Shut out 38-0 at Stanford last Thanksgiving weekend to start their current losing streak, Oregon St.'s suffered their first shutout loss to a non Pac-10 team since Fresno St., in 1986.

Oregon St. converted only 7 of 15 3rd down situations, and while Wisconsin was only one better, 8 of 15, they also picked up a pair of fourth down conversions. Something the Beavers didn't do at all.

Oregon St. (0-2) has now lost 4 straight games, their longest losing streak since 1998, 2 by shutouts, 5 of their last 6 contests, 7 of 9, and 11 of 16.

Wisconsin (2-0) improved to 30-0 against non-conference opposition under coach Bret Bielema, and 45-4 at Camp Randall since 2004. The Badgers are 34-3 under Bielema at home.

(AP Photos by Morry Gash)

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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