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Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Offense struggles in Badger loss

Badgers stumble against Oregon State

Corvallis, Ore.—Say what you will about Wisconsin’s schedule each year, but head coach Bret Bielema entered Saturday’s game against Oregon State 25-0 in regular season, non-conference games.

Dating back to 2005, the Badgers had won 33 consecutive such contests—the second longest in the country behind Louisiana State. Given the same criteria, UW entered Reser Stadium having won 11 straight on the road.

All of those streaks now stand at zero.

No. 13 Wisconsin (1-1) tried to mount a comeback in the final two minutes with a touchdown and what appeared to be an onside kick recovery, but the play was reviewed and reversed, and the Badgers’ worst offensive performance in over two years resulted in an ugly 10-7 loss against the Beavers.

The Badgers offense managed just 207 total yards of offense, and racked up 64 of them on the final scoring drive.

Shut out for the first 58:29, the vaunted Wisconsin rushing attack mustered just 35 rushing yards on 23 attempts. After the offensive line struggled to get consistent push a week ago in a 26-21 win against Northern Iowa, running room was virtually non-existent against the Beavers’ defense.

“I’m not going to sit here and point the finger at the offensive line,” said senior running back and 2011 Heisman finalist Montee Ball (15 carries, 61 yards). “I’m sure I missed holes. I’m going to point the finger at myself.”

Ball and junior James White combined for 72 rushing yards, but three sacks against junior quarterback Danny O’Brien, including two fumbles, subtracted from the net rushing total.

White recovered the first one at UW’s 48 yard-line to prevent a turnover, but the OSU sophomore Scott Crichton recovered the loose ball that stopped Wisconsin’s most promising drive of the afternoon at the Beavers nine-yard line early in the third quarter.

“That was a critical play looking back on it, being at the nine-yard line with the bare minimum of getting three points in the bag,” said O’Brien, who finished 20-38 for 172 yards, a touchdown and an interception. “I was just going to throw it away and he just kind of got me in the wrong spot.”

That three points turned out to be the difference in the final score, but only because of a commendable performance from Wisconsin’s defense.

UW’s defense limited Oregon State to just ten points despite being on the field for 35:35. By unofficial count, the Beavers ran 38 of their 77 plays in Wisconsin territory and outgained the Badgers by 147 yards.

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Sophomore OSU quarterback Sean Mannion finished with 276 yards (29-47) and did not turn the ball over as he effectively ran a Beavers’ offense predicated on short, safe throws and utilizing open space.

“They made plays,” redshirt junior linebacker Chris Borland said. “They had a good scheme going with their pass routes and he kind of got loose once and I think that was the touchdown.”

That touchdown came on a third-and-12 completion from Mannion to sophomore wide receiver Brandin Cooks (six rec., 80 yds.) Otherwise, the Badgers defense did an effective job of giving its offense a chance to find a spark. It just never did.

“We’re close and we just need to figure out what we’re missing,” redshirt junior Travis Frederick said. “Obviously it was missing last week and we didn’t find it this week.”

Despite the struggles, it appeared Wisconsin would have a chance to tie or win the game in the final minutes. Following UW’s lone score—an 11-yard touchdown pass from O’Brien to junior tight end Jacob Pedersen—sophomore kicker Kyle French lined up to attempt an onside kick and dribbled the ball straight ahead. Borland and freshman fullback Derek Watt cleared out two defenders and French fell on the ball at the 46-yard line. After a lengthy review, the officials ruled French touched the ball before it traveled the necessary 10 yards and the Beavers ran out the clock.

“You know when it’s long it usually isn’t good if it was ruled in your favor originally,” Borland said. “From my perspective I thought he had it.”

“I was honestly completely shocked that it was overturned,” French said. “I thought it hit one of their hands first … just going underneath and I know I had more possession of the ball than he did.”

Redshirt junior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis left the game after suffering an injury on a big hit in the second quarter. He did not return. Redshirt senior safety Shelton Johnson left the game in the third quarter and did not return. He was seen on the sideline later wearing a sling.

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