07.Sep.2011 Oregon State @ Wisconsin (Pre-game)
The Beavers have many things going against them in this game. The early kickoff, lingering injuries, undersized linemen, scheme, coordinators, etc.
It is hard to make a compelling case for the Beavers.
Even so, I do feel some excitement about this game. It's due to the Beaver's two advantages: dynamic wide receivers and the return game (i.e. special teams).
To win a game of this magnitude, OSU will need turnovers, big plays on special teams, and the stable of dynamic WRs to show up. In my mind the game comes down to those three things. I know people believe the game will be decided by Wisconsin's offensive line. From the Badger's perspective, that is probably true, but I'm not sure it's worth discussing their (well-known) strength since the Beavers don't have the roster to counter it. Wisconsin graduated three all-conference players to the NFL (all slated to start for their respective teams) and replaced them with three slow hogs who maul and will one day make the NFL. Wisconsin is a lineman factory. What else is there to say about that?
The Beavs will have to use speed to combat (athletic) size, which rarely works, as the Ducks are finding out. To exploit their ariel advantage, they'll need a QB who can get the ball down field. In steps Sean Mannion. Or does he? Three days before kickoff we still don't know who the starting QB will be. Mannion looks to have the confidence and poise to pull out a miracle, but the sample is small and the atmosphere large. Does he blossom or become a shrinking violet in the autumn air? You'd think the latter…
Despite the mismatch on paper and all signs pointing to a blowout, I am excited about this game. Riley seemed re-focused and pumped up this week, saying coaches were accountable and they'd make the necessary adjustments. If they can do that, and the offense/special teams can use their speed to have a big day, I think the Beavers can put pressure on Wisconsin, and if that happens, who knows. The Beavers also know, psychologically, that somewhere along the line they have to make up for last week's "sure win"…what better time to do that than in a game everyone expects to be a sure loss?