Published September 07, 2011
| Sports Network
Oregon State took on FCS foe Sacramento State in its opener, and despite a valiant effort fell short in overtime to the Hornets, 29-28. The loss was particularly painful considering it took place in Corvallis, as the Beavers had won their previous nine home openers.
OSU coach Mike Riley is certainly aware of the challenge that awaits his team as it prepares for this encounter with a Wisconsin team that doesn't appear to have many weaknesses.
"We obviously have a big challenge and a big week ahead of us. A lot of this will be a mental factor for our team because as we all know in sports, confidence is a big deal. I think if we can, in some fashion, take that last game and learn a lot from it, and then focus on this week, then we'll play a better football game. We play an outstanding opponent. These guys are ranked where they are for good reason. They appear to have picked up right where they left off in the Rose Bowl. And they've added a terrific athlete at quarterback. All the parts are there for the challenge so we need to rise to it."
Wisconsin had very little trouble getting past visiting UNLV in its season opener last weekend, trouncing the Rebels in a 51-17 final. It was the 29th straight regular-season win over a non-conference foe, and its 10th straight home win overall. The Badgers' offensive exploits over the last six games is remarkable as they have scored 346 points for an average of 57.7 ppg.
Coach Bret Bielema knows that despite any difficulties the Beavers had in their opener, his Badgers need to be focused on the task at hand.
"They've got two quarterbacks that both look like they can throw the football very well, a couple running backs, a freshman that did an outstanding job. Their tight ends were a little banged up, expect to be back, as well as a couple of defensive guys should be back, and going to be a very tough challenge for us, and one I think our kids will be excited to play in."
Wisconsin won the only other meeting between these two teams, taking a 23-20 decision in Madison back in 1961.
The loss to Sacramento State ruined what was arguably the greatest debut in Oregon State history as freshman RB Malcolm Agnew rushed for 223 yards and three TDs. It was the ninth-best single-game rushing total in the school's annals. Riley used two QBs in the game, as Ryan Katz and Sean Mannion both took snaps, the latter, a redshirt freshman, having the better of it as he went 8-of-12 for 143 yards. He didn't throw a TD pass, but he wasn't intercepted either. Junior WR Markus Wheaton caught six balls for 108 yards, helping the Beavers amass 496 yards of total offense, compared to 397 for the Hornets.
The Oregon State defense stood tall against the run last week, yielding a mere 71 yards, but defending the pass was another story entirely as the Hornets produced 296 yards and four TDs through the air. Junior LB Feti Unga led the Beavers with eight tackles, and the defense as a whole came up with six TFL, two sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries.
Russell Wilson made the most of his first start in a Badger uniform, as the gifted signal-caller accounted for three TDs in Wisconsin's 34-point win over UNLV. Wilson, who transferred to UW after beginning his collegiate career at NC State, threw for 255 yards and two scores, and he ran for another on a 46- yard jaunt near the end of the first half. RB Montee Ball scored three TDs, while backfield mate James White added a score of his own, and their 127 combined rushing yards helped the Badgers amass 499 yards of total offense, compared to just 292 for the Rebels.
The Wisconsin defense did not register a turnover in the game, but posted three sacks, two of which were credited to Louis Nzegwu. The Badgers allowed just 146 passing yards to a Rebel offense that converted a mere 2-of-12 third- down attempts despite owning a near 10-minute advantage in time of possession. LB Chris Borland led the UW defensive stand with seven tackles, and a total of 16 guys were credited with at least two tackles in the contest.