Oregon State vs. Wisconsin: 5 Things to Watch as Badgers Welcome the Beavers

Sean LansingContributor ISeptember 9, 2011

Oregon State vs. Wisconsin: 5 Things to Watch as Badgers Welcome the Beavers

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    Here are five things to watch for on Saturday morning when the eighth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers (1-0) welcome PAC-12 opponent Oregon State (0-1) to Camp Randall Stadium for a non-conference clash at 11 a.m. CST on ESPN.

    Last week, the Badgers defeated the UNLV Rebels, 51-17, while the Oregon State Beavers fell to Sacramento State, 29-28.  

Will the Badgers Defense Be Prepared?

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    For as good as Wisconsin was last Thursday in its 51-17 thrashing of UNLV, the Badgers defense left a lot to be desired.

    UNLV was able to run the ball effectively against first-year defensive coordinator Chris Ash’s crew with a litany of formations that confused Wisconsin, and pressure on the Rebels’ quarterback was sparse.  

    There is no question that Wisconsin has the offense to compete for a national title, but if the Badgers can’t defend the run or get to the passer, Bret Bielema’s squad will struggle to make it through the Big Ten season.  

Encore?

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    Speaking of offense, can Russell Wilson and company repeat their impressive week one performance?

    Wilson led Wisconsin to almost 500 yards of offense and 51 points in less than three quarters against UNLV with the help of running backs Montee Ball and James White.

    The competition will be stiffer this week when the Badgers line up against Oregon State and it will be interesting to see how one of the nation’s top offenses responds.  

Can Oregon State Bounce Back?

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    For years, the Oregon State Beavers have overachieved in the top-heavy PAC-12 Conference.  

    It isn’t easy playing or recruiting in the shadow of Oregon or in the same conference as campus paradises such as USC, UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State.

    Still, season after season, Head Coach Mike Riley gets the job done.

    It is because of Riley’s track record that last week’s loss to FCS Sacramento State is so shocking.

    Can the Beavers recover and at least compete against the defending Big Ten champs after suffering such a heart-breaking (and uncharacteristic) loss? 

Can Wisconsin Stay Focused?

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    When the 2011 schedule was set, everybody from Madison to Montana circled the October 1st Wisconsin-Nebraska showdown on their calendars.

    It is one of college football’s marquee matchups this season and it is Nebraska’s first ever Big Ten conference game.  

    Before the Badgers welcome the Cornhuskers to Camp Randall, they play Oregon State, travel to Soldier Field for Northern Illinois and host FCS cream puff South Dakota.

    Although it’s still almost a month away, do the Badgers have their eye on Bo Pelini’s team, or are they ready to take things one week and one game at a time?

The Student Section…

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    It has been years since Wisconsin had this much talent and the expectations in Madison are at an all-time high.

    In turn, the demand for tickets to see the Badgers play is through the roof.

    It is no secret that Wisconsin is just as much of a party school as it is a football powerhouse.

    No matter how good the Badgers are, the student section often remains only half-full until well into the first quarter as co-eds bong beers across campus (especially for 11 a.m. kickoffs).

    This season, will the attendance match the hype?