BF.C Keys to the Game: Wisconsin

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING, playing a Top 10 team early in the season has been a bit of a painful lesson for the Beavers: LSU, Penn State, Cincinnati, Boise State, Louisville were all tough non-conference opponents and with the exception of LSU, the margin of victory was ugly. But this Oregon State opener against a top caliber opponent is different...

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This game isn't being played at noon in the Eastern time zone or immediately following a brutal gut-wrenching loss to an SEC team with flight delays getting home. This year the game is in Corvallis, and the Beavers are rested and restless, and ready to hit.

That said, missing the tune-up game against Nicholls State stole a much-needed opportunity for the Beavers to knock off some ring rust.

The silver lining to the cloud that was Nicholls State not making the trip to Corvallis because of Hurricane Isaac -- Wisconsin truly has no idea what to expect when they set foot inside Reser Stadium.

It isn't just that this Beavers' team is different mentally from the young, injury-ridden squad that stumbled and stuttered through the 2011 season – there are also a number of new faces (Storm Woods) and old faces (Michael Philipp) alike that the Badgers haven't seen.

And there are players who were wide-eyed and still wet behind the ears last season that although they will wear the same jersey they donned in Camp Randall last season, the Badgers won't recognize them in 2012.

I'm looking at you, Sean Mannion.

This is a winnable game for the Beavers. Here is how they get it done:

1. Keep Feti Unga and Castro Masaniai's feet on the turf.
The first 4 games of 2011, the Oregon State run defense allowed 443 yards on 134 attempts, a respectable 3.3 yards per carry. Then in Game 5 against BYU, both Masaniai and the Player Known This Season as Feti Taumoepeau were injured, and we all know the story from there. These two players are crucial to Oregon State's run defense against Wisconsin and for the season – they need to stay healthy.

2. Make Wisconsin throw to convert third downs.
Although Wisconsin's Rent-A-Senior program is in full swing, make no mistake: Danny O'Brien is no Russell Wilson. Yes, he shined in this regard against NIU but Oregon State rushers will be faster and stronger than Wisconsin's Week 1 FCS team opponent. Wilson has only been in Madison since June so getting pressure and making him work to convert those third downs while he still is learning the offense is key.

3. Get off the ball.
Speed and skill athletes, Oregon State has. Storm Woods, Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks all have tremendous speed but the question is, did Isaac Seumalo bring enough nasty with him to share with the group? The Oregon State center has absolutely GOT to be physical against a physical Wisconsin defense, and allow the skill players to show Big Ten fans what Pac-12 speed is all about.

The closer this game gets, the more excited your humble iron-fisted dictator becomes. Find me rattling back and forth between tailgating with Sarg and The Toe, who promises a visit from the Howard Hughesian WEBMASTER DAN, our one and only dnorz.

Questions? Comments? Chalk board X's and O's drawings you made during film session in the basement? HIT ME.

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