Special teams mistakes keep OSU from making it a game
MADISON, Wis. - Silver linings were all Oregon State could cling to after its 35-0 beatdown by eighth-ranked Wisconsin on Saturday.
Sean Mannion had a nice day passing and OSU's defense was sound and game against a Wisconsin team that came in ranked second nationally in total offense.
If not for some brain farts by the special-teams unit, in fact, the Beavers (0-2), who entered the game as three-touchdown underdogs, might have made it interesting.
Instead, the Badgers (2-0) marched to a rather perfunctory win, their 11th straight at Camp Randall Stadium while improving their home record to 43-4 since 2004.
'We go into every game believing we're going to win,' said Cameron Collins, OSU's senior linebacker. 'When you come up short, it's extremely frustrating.'
Quarterback Russell Wilson - the ballyhooed senior transfer from North Carolina State - completed 17 of 21 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns and Montee Ball rushed for 118 yards and two scores for the Badgers.
Mannion came on for starting quarterback Ryan Katz on Oregon State's fourth play from scrimmage and went almost the entire way, completing 25 of 38 passes for 244 yards with no interceptions.
But the Beavers, minus injured tailback Malcolm Agnew, managed only 23 net yards rushing.
'We had a chance early on to make that a game,' OSU coach Mike Riley said. 'Defensively, we hung in there as long as we could against their very good running game, their play-action game.
'But we could never respond offensively - never really did anything. That was the difference. And we made it easier for them by messing up on special teams.'
Boy, did the Beavers. To wit:
• After an exchange of punts to open the game, Wisconsin stopped Oregon State on its second possession. Then Johnny Hekker, attempting a rugby-style punt, launched what may have been the first backward punt in school history. Henker shanked it off the side of his foot out of bounds for a minus-four-yard punt, the Badgers taking over at the OSU 14-yard line.
On third-and-13 from the 17, Wilson found tight end Jacob Pedersen in the end zone for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 8:35 left in the first quarter.
• With the Beavers trailing 7-0 midway through the second quarter, long snapper Marcus Perry was called for a personal foul on a punt play, giving Wisconsin the ball at its own 49.
'Don't believe I've ever had a long snapper get a penalty before,' Riley said.
The Badgers went 51 yards on eight plays, with Wilson going to Nick Toon for 10 yards on a fade route over OSU's Rashaad Reynolds in the end zone for a 14-0 advantage with 7:42 left in the half.
• On the ensuing kickoff, Keynan Parker made a bonehead mistake, fielding a kickoff that would have either gone out of bounds or into the end zone as he was stepping on the sideline at the OSU 3-yard line.
Mannion launched a beautiful 32-yard pass to Jordan Bishop to get the Beavers out of trouble, but they eventually punted and yielded a third Wisconsin TD to go into halftime trailing 21-0.
'Bad football,' Riley said of the special-teams blunders.
The Badgers 'were good, but we were right there the whole game,' Bishop said. 'A few mistakes really cost us.'
A year ago, Wisconsin averaged 41.5 points per game and hit 70 three times. The Badgers may be more potent this year with the fleet Wilson, but the Oregon State defense contained him for the most part and stuffed the run early, allowing Wisconsin only three yards on the ground in the first quarter.
The offense didn't do its part, though, especially in the run department.
'We had to be perfect,' Riley said. 'We needed to be methodical and not mess up and not have many negative plays, because we weren't able to be able to protect against them for very long nor could we hold our blocks very long.
'We played pretty well up front (defensively) for awhile. We gave up one long run on the outside where our corner lost containment, but our interior held up pretty well for a good period of time. But (the Badgers) are eventually going to get you. You need to respond better offensively if you want to beat them.'
Wisconsin wound up with 397 yards total offense and 208 yards rushing. Oregon State had an edge in time of possession (31:03 to 28:57), but 284 yards total offense. Only 23 yards rushing is rarely going to get it done.
'The whole thing this week was to get the run game going,' said Bishop, who had five catches for 98 yards before leaving in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. 'Unfortunately, we weren't able to that. We hit some throws in the passing game, which is great, but we have to be more balanced.'
With Wisconsin comfortably ahead 35-0, the Beavers had a chance to score in each of their fourth-quarter possessions.
Early in the quarter, they moved from their own 20 to the Badger 10, but Mannion's arm was hit as he attempted a throw. Center Grant Johnson caught the ball but fumbled as he tried to advance it and the Badgers recovered.
With their next possession, OSU advanced from its 1-yard line to the Wisconsin 19 but turned the ball over on downs.
The Beavers got down to the Badger 30 on their last series in the final seconds but ran out of time.
The 6-5, 220-pound Mannion, who had played the entire second half in Oregon State's 29-28 overtime loss to Sacramento State last Saturday, entered early, after Katz had gotten a first down with a three-yard quarterback sneak.
Katz played only four more plays, running four times for 12 yards and hitting 2 of 3 passes for 17 yards. It appeared the Beavers intended to use Katz on the zone read off the spread attack, but Riley wouldn't confirm it.
'The way the game was going, we didn't get into anything with Ryan we'd have liked to do,' the OSU coach said. 'We got behind, and we were throwing the ball more, and we wanted Sean to do it.
'We wanted him to throw. That's why we put him in. It had nothing to do with (Katz's) performance. We were going to rotate them a little bit - not necessarily that fast.'
Bishop said he wasn't surprised that Mannion went nearly the entire way.
'Not at all,' Bishop said. 'He took all the (starter's) reps during practice this week. Sean played a hell of a game, on the road for the first time.
'Both guys are really good quarterbacks. Sean had a good week of practice. We're all buying into what he's been doing. We feel as comfortable with Sean as we do Ryan.'
Mannion offered mostly cliches as he met with the media afterward, including 'we just have to get better for next week' four or five times.
The Beavers have a bye next week. They play host to UCLA on Sept. 24.
Mannion said he felt more comfortable than he had in OSU's opener.
'I've calmed down,' the redshirt freshman from Pleasanton, Calif., said. 'The game is starting to slow down for me. I just have to get better.'
Wisconsin's mammoth offensive line averages 315 pounds, but Oregon State's defensive front handled the Badger hogs more often than not.
'Our front four played great the whole way,' Collins said.
'They were big, but we have a lot of weapons as well,' OSU freshman D-end Scott Crichton said. 'We went out there and dug our butts in. We were doing good at first, but let it slip away.'
The Beavers sacked Wilson only once.
'Good quarterback,' Crichton said, 'but we should have gotten to him a lot.'
Riley admitted the Beavers missed Agnew, who put up a national-best 223 yards rushing along with three TDs against Sac State. OSU tailbacks Jordan Jenkins, Terron Ward and Jovan Stevenson combined for 29 yards on 15 carries Saturday.
'It was not good not having Malcolm, but we should have been able to do better than that,' the OSU coach said. 'We didn't block well enough.'
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema seemed to think his staff's adjustments were critical to the game's outcome. Bielema said OSU's safeties were playing aggressively to stop the run.
'Early in the game, they weren't going to let us run the ball, but we were patient and didn't panic,' Bielema said. 'It really opened up our play-action passing game.
'The game is five percent of what happens and 95 percent of what you react to. Because (the OSU defense was) giving us certain looks that took away, we had to have the mentality not to panic, not flinch and just keep the ball going in the right direction. It was a great example of Wisconsin football.'
Riley was philosophical as he looked ahead to the UCLA game.
'There were some good things today,' he said. 'We have to have a great week of practice. Everybody has to stay together. I have real hopes for this team. There was a lot of stuff today, particularly defensively, that was better. We can build on that. And offensively, I know we can be better than that.
'At one time today we had a freshman quarterback, two freshman wideouts and a freshman tailback in there. We have to do a lot of coaching. Nobody here is discouraged. If we keep the team going we're going to get better as we go.
'We're not going to draw any lines in the sand with this group. I have a lot of young players and I want to keep them growing, keep them all positive and going forward. I don't want those guys getting discouraged. We have to keep coaching them.'
NOTES - OSU left guard Josh Andrews left with a right knee injury in the second quarter and was on crutches the second half. He will undergo an MRI on Sunday. Bishop sprained the right ankle that underwent offseason surgery. 'Somebody fell on top of it, after my last catch,' he said. 'I think I'll be all right.' ... Receiver Markus Wheaton, who led the Beavers with eight catches for 83 yards, suffered a rib injury in the second quarter but returned for the second half. ... Riley said he expects tight end Joe Halahuni (shoulder) and linebacker D.J. Welch (elbow) back for the UCLA. 'And we'll talk a lot about James Rodgers,' the OSU coach said of his senior flanker, who may make his 2011 debut against the Bruins. ... Three reserves saw action in Andrews' place - Michael Lamb, Michael Beaton and Derek Nielsen. ... Wisconsin has won 30 straight regular-season non-conference games at home ... It was Oregon State's first shutout since a 38-0 loss at Stanford last season. The Beavers have lost six of their last seven games dating back to their defeat at UCLA last November... True freshman Kenzel Doe, who originally verbally committed to Oregon State, played at wide receiver for Wisconsin.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Oregon State 0 0 0 0 - 0
Wisconsin 7 14 7 7 - 35
WIS - Jacob Pedersen 17 pass from Russell Wilson (Kyle French kick) 8:35
WIS - Nick Toon 10 pass from Wilson (French kick) 7:42
WIS - Pedersen 6 pass from Wilson (French kick) :27
WIS - Montee Ball 19 run (French kick) 12:09
WIS -- Ball 1 run (French kick) 14:55