Week 2 – Wisconsin at Oregon State

Posted Sep 4, 2012

Week 2 CFN Fearless Prediction – Wisconsin at Oregon State

Wisconsin (1-0) at Oregon State (0-0) Sept. 8, 4:00, FX

Here's The Deal: Did Wisconsin get exposed by Northern Iowa, or was that just a Week One, get-the-kinks-worked-out-struggle?

The Badgers hardly looked like the juggernaut that ripped through the last two seasons on the way to consecutive Rose Bowl appearances having problems getting the vaunted running game going against the Panthers and struggling way too much against the speed of the of the backs in pass patterns. The defense looked out of position and confused in the second half, and he offensive line never seemed able to establish itself to put the game away. On the plus side, that could potentially be the kick in the pants needed to focus for a good road game against an Oregon State program desperate to become relevant again.

It wasn't all that long ago that Oregon State was a player in the Pac-12, then Pac-10, title chase, but two straight losing seasons and a disastrous 2011 have suddenly put the pressure on to make this a bounceback campaign. Unfortunately, the Beavers will have to take on Wisconsin without the benefit of a tune-up, with the Nicholls State game postponed until the end of the season because of Hurricane Isaac. Last year OSU went into Madison and was stomped 35-0, but with road games at UCLA and Washington State coming up next, it's time to hit the ground running and show that things have dramatically changed over the last year.

Why Wisconsin Might Win: Oregon State really, really needed the Nicholls State game. It was a rocky summer with a slew of backups leaving the team, some academic problems, and a slew of suspensions. The issues mostly affect the depth, but still, it would've been nice to have had a game to get a good rotation going to be able to hold up against a Badger team sure to come out with an attitude after the problems against Northern Iowa. Last year the Beavers struggled mightily to score and had problems on the offensive line. With three new starters up front, it's going to take a while to jell opening up the opportunity for Wisconsin to pin its ears back a bit and get to the quarterback. The call has gone out this week – get to the quarterback. The UW defense allowed just 41 yards to UNI, but …

Why Oregon State Might Win: The linebackers were exposed a bit in pass coverage. Northern Iowa was able to get its backs matched up against UW linebacker Mike Taylor and Chris Borland and were able to use their speed – and poor tackling from the secondary – to get back in the game late. Do the Beavers have the backs to do the same thing? Malcolm Agnew and a slew of quick runners have to get to the second level and Sean Mannion has to be able to deliver the ball. Of course the Badgers are going to try to adjust and will attempt to plug the leak, but Oregon State still has to try getting the midrange passing game going. On the defensive side of the ball, the strength might be the line with excellent size and three starters returning. If the UW O line isn't far better than it was last week, the Beavers should be able to hold their own.

What To Watch Out For: Last year, Oregon State's quarterback situation became cleared up against Wisconsin with Sean Mannion solidifying the position throwing for 244 yards in the loss. He wasn't able to put any points on the board, but he held up well. Now he has to be a star. The 6-5, 215-pounder is a presence in the pocket, is heady beyond his years and will not be outworked. He'll have to cut down on the mistakes—and improve his decision-making— but he'll have his chances to hit on some big plays against the suspect Badger secondary.

For Wisconsin, the debut of new quarterback Danny O'Brien was nearly perfect. The playcalling from the coaching staff was the problem on a few stalled drives – O'Brien wasn't the reason the O went flat. He completed 19-of-23 passes – two of the misfires were drops – for 219 yards and two scores highlighted by a brilliantly thrown bomb to Jared Abbrederis. Expect the Badger coaching staff to give him more chances to make plays now that they know what he can do.

What Will Happen: Oregon State will connect on a few big plays and will put up plenty of yards, but it will lose the turnover battle big. The Badger running game will have a fire lit under it and will make up for the problems of last week.

CFN Prediction: Wisconsin 34 … Oregon State 17
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Wisconsin -8 O/U: 52
Must Watch Rating (5 – Phineas & Ferb, 1 – Steve Harvey): 2.5