Sept. 8, 2012; Corvallis, OR, USA; Oregon State Beavers tailback Storm Woods (24) is tripped up by Wisconsin Badgers player Dezmen Southward (12) during the first half at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-US PRESSWIRE

Badgers Fall 10-7 to Oregon State

2012 is a different year and this is a different Badger team. Last year they imposed their will on Oregon State, crushing them 35-0 behind huge efforts by Russell Wilson and Montee Ball. This year? No Russell Wilson. And Montee Ball is running behind an offensive line that is clearly not as dominating as the one Wisconsin put out there in 2011. And overall this year’s offense is nowhere near being a typical Wisconsin juggernaut. The result: Oregon State gutted their way to a 10-7 home win against the Badgers.

Some may focus on the waning seconds of this game, when the Badgers had a chance to get back in it but came up short. After being shut out all day, the Badgers finally scored a TD on a Danny O’Brien pass to Jacob Pedersen. The ensuing onside kick looked to have been recovered by Wisconsin but on review the ball was given to Oregon State who ran out the clock for the win. Some will argue the officials lacked indisputable evidence and should not have overturned the original call. In the end it’s irrelevant. The Badgers lost the game by their lack of offense over three-plus quarters, not because some referee screwed them.

So who to blame for the mess? When a team that’s been this offensively dominating for so many years can’t get even a third down conversion until late in the fourth, there clearly must be multiple culprits. Offensive line not as strong as in the past, especially at the guard positions. Wide receiver corps that lacks playmakers. New quarterback who isn’t yet totally familiar with the offense. Offensive coordinator who doesn’t yet have a feel for the Badgers’ approach after years in a spread system. Put those in whatever order you want. They all played a part in today’s loss.

The good news, if there’s any good news to derive from this catastrophe, is that the defense played a much more solid all-around game than last week against Northern Iowa. Despite being on the field altogether too much, thanks to the offensive ineptitude, the D mostly avoided the major mental mistakes that plagued them last week. The one glaring exception came on Oregon State’s single TD of the game when someone in the secondary appeared to blow an assignment. Otherwise, the tackling was mostly sound, there was a decent amount of pressure put on the QB and the big plays were avoided. Some of this is down to Oregon State’s conservative game plan, but give credit to the defense too. They held up well in a tough spot.

So now the Badgers will try to regroup after a truly horrific offensive performance. What can they do to get better? It’s going to be tough. Bret Bielema will have to figure out who is going to play right guard for him, since Zac Matthias is obviously overmatched. He also needs to identify which receivers can make a play, a more urgent task than ever with Jared Abbrederis possibly missing time after suffering a chest injury. Jeff Duckworth did show up late after not getting in the game for most of four quarters, so perhaps he can be a factor. A more concerted effort must be made to get Jacob Pedersen involved as well. And the pass protection needs work.

A lot of stuff needs work. What a disaster.

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  • Chino

    Since I’m angry right now, when do we start thinking about giving Phillips or Stave at QB? O’Brien held onto the ball too long many plays (sure he didn’t have the best protection or good receivers that knew how to get open, and the play calling was suspect), he was not accurate either, and that interception was not a good decision at all. A few other passes also should have been picked but were dropped. And that sack and fumble after we got the ball with good field position after OSU botched that punt was devastating. We should have at least got 3 out of that and that would have at least taken us to OT. O’Brien looked like he didn’t know the protection and the was he was holding the ball low like that is not how you are supposed to scramble away in the pocket. Sure, maybe he’s trying to get used to a new system and coordinator, but do we want to wait? A guy like Phillips who has stuck it out with this program through all of the injuries for so long and was such a talented recruit I think deserves a shot.

  • SD Jeff

    Badgers did NOT deserve to win. Terrible game. Slowest temp offense ever. O’brien looked bad. But really, is MB the only deep threat after Abberderis?? With all that, the Pac 10 reply crew completely F’d up the onside kick review. I watched in 30 times and the most likely scenario is that the OS player knocked the ball back and then French touched it. There is zero chance of indisputable visual evidence to reverse the call on the field. Can’t be to upset as they have at least 5 more losses ahead of them.

  • hefe

    The refs were from a third-party conference (the big east, i believe), not the pac 12, and they gave Wisconsin two calls on their td drive: a BS pass interference call on the first play, and the no call offensive PI on what surely would have been a pick at the edge of the end zone had the DB not got mauled by the receiver.