Wisconsin usually lives by its signature running game. With quarterback Russell Wilson and a dominant defense, the No. 8 Badgers showed they can live without it.
Oregon State's defense stuffed running backs Montee Ball and James White early on, but Wisconsin pounced on special teams mistakes and leaned on Wilson and the defense to do the rest in a 35-0 victory at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday.
In his second start for the Badgers (2-0), Wilson was 17 of 21 for 189 yards and the three touchdowns, including a pair to tight end Jacob Pedersen. Wisconsin's running game eventually wore down Oregon State, and Ball had a pair of touchdowns in the second half.
"This is what I expected and more," Wilson said. "The chemistry is more what I'm talking about. The guys really believe in one another, we're really working hard and executing well. We've just got to keep getting better."
It was Wisconsin's first shutout since a 37-0 defeat of Purdue in October 2009, a point of pride for the defense.
"I haven't had a shutout since high school," said cornerback Antonio Fenelus, who didn't play much in that 2009 Purdue game as a sophomore. "To be here, coming out and working hard for four quarters (is important). They're a really good team, and being able to shut them out is a good feeling."
Sean Mannion took most of the snaps at quarterback but struggled to move the ball for Oregon State (0-2). Ryan Katz, the team's starter last season, played a limited number of snaps.
Saturday's game likely was the Badgers' toughest test before their Oct. 1 Big Ten opener at home against Nebraska. Wisconsin plays Northern Illinois at Soldier Field next Saturday, then faces South Dakota at home Sept. 24.
Wilson, a former North Carolina State standout who gave up a minor league baseball career to return to college football, continued his successful start with the Badgers.
"He works harder than anybody, and we're happy he's here," Pedersen said.
Wilson and the offense certainly got some unintended help from Oregon State.
The first special teams mistake came on the Beavers' second possession, when punter Johnny Hekker bizarrely shanked a ball out of bounds for a four-yard loss that gave the ball back to the Badgers deep in Oregon State territory.
Oregon State's defense held on first and second down, then gave up a 17-yard touchdown from Wilson to a wide-open Pedersen.
The Beavers made another mistake early in the second quarter, when a personal foul penalty on long snapper Marcus Perry on a punt gave the ball to the Badgers near midfield.
Facing third-and-5 at the Oregon State 46, Wilson hit Nick Toon for a 17-yard catch-and-run and a first down. Wilson finished the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Toon, who made a leaping grab in the end zone.
With Wisconsin leading 14-0, Oregon State needed a drive to stay in the game. Instead, kick returner Kenyan Parker decided to field a kickoff inside the 5-yard line and step out of bounds to back the Beavers up into their own end zone.
"Just bad football," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said.
After a punt, Wisconsin put together a 12-play, 72-yard drive capped by a 6-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Pedersen.
The Badgers' running game began to break through late in the first half, then took over on the first drive of the third quarter. Ball and White both ran effectively on a drive that ended with Ball's 19-yard touchdown run. Wisconsin led 28-0. Ball finished the game with 118 yards.
"The interior held up pretty well for a long time," Riley said. "They're eventually going to get you. We just need to respond better if you want to beat them."
NOTES: Wisconsin CB Devin Smith left the game with a left foot injury in the first quarter. ... Wisconsin also lost DL Pat Muldoon, who left the game with a right elbow injury in the second quarter. ... Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson watched the game from the press box.