Those corrections will take place on the road, as No.13 Wisconsin will travel to Corvallis to take on Oregon State. The Beavers struggled last year (3-9) and want to get back on the field to prove that last year was a fluke.
The Badgers should have the advantage at every position on the field but factor in that it's the Beavers season opener and the first road game of the season the game might be closer than expected.
The rankings for the Front Seven are determined based on performance from last week, expectations this coming week and need. It was not easy determining who will be important in helping the Badgers to there second victory of the year.
Last Weeks Rankings in Parentheses
1, Danny O'Brien, QB (1): O'Brien had an impressive debut against the Panthers, going 19-23 for 219 yards and two touchdowns and no turnovers. It will be important now to see what O'Brien can do on the road. While at Maryland, O'Brien passed for 1,233 yards and eight touchdowns to six interceptions in his seven career road games. O'Brien's interceptions on the road are high and if he does turn the football over, it might give Oregon State some unwanted momentum. O'Brien will also have a chance to redeem himself from his performance last week where two early drives stalled inside the 25-yard line. If O'Brien can put up six points on early possessions versus field goals, the Badgers have a chance to get some breathing room against the Beavers.
2, Montee Ball, RB (6): Ball admitted that he had a frustrating game on Saturday and has to be able to get back on track in order for Wisconsin to be balanced. Even so, Ball's 120 rushing yards and one touchdown is nothing to cringe at. The senior definitely has capable backups but if Ball can get into a rhythm early, he should be able to help the Badgers to a victory. With it being the Beavers first game of the season, you know they will look at what Northern Iowa did to slow down Ball. It's safe to assume the Beavers will put men in the box and try and have the offense beat them in a different way.
3, David Gilbert, DE (5): The Badgers' defensive line had trouble taking down Northern Iowa's quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen, only sacking him once. The Badgers' defense was able to generate little pass rush; a concern considering that was one of the main focal points coming into this season. Many thought Gilbert would take a big step forward coming off of his injury last season but the junior was non-existent against Northern Iowa. Gilbert had a good game last year when the Badgers played Oregon State, recording three tackles and one sack. The Beavers, who struggled mightily to protect their quarterback a year ago, returns four starting lineman. One would think and hope Gilbert can improve from week one and play better so he can flash his pass rushing skills.
4, Travis Frederick, C (7): Frederick - along with a couple of other Badgers - admitted that their practice week leading up to the opener could've been better. With Frederick being a captain, he will be responsible to make sure the Badgers don't have another lackluster performance. Frederick and the rest of his offensive line did a good job of keeping O'Brien upright, as the only sack came with O'Brien holding on to the ball for too long. Frederick and O'Brien didn't have any trouble with quarterback-center exchange issues either, but the line has to do a better job of creating holes for Ball and James White. I would be surprised if Frederick and the rest of the offensive line didn't get that corrected for the game against Oregon State.
5, Devin Smith, CB (4): The Beavers' biggest strength on offense is their wide receivers. The Beavers have three wide receivers in Markus Wheaton, Brandon Cooks and Richard Mullaney who are big play threats, especially Wheaton who led the way with 73 catches for 986 yards last season. The Badgers wanted to eliminate the big plays that they gave up a season ago and still have work to do in that area, giving gave up two big play touchdowns in the fourth quarter that allowed the Panthers to stay in the game. With the Beavers having three receivers who can change the game it will be important for Smith to be able to shut down his side of the field. Smith is the Badgers' best cornerback and will likely be matchup with Wheaton. If Smith can shut down him down, he's taking away a valuable asset to Oregon State.
6, Jared Abbrederis, WR/KR/PR (3): With his first game under his belt as the number one receiver, Abbrederis certainly didn't disappoint, displaying that he could be a big-play threat with his 53-yard touchdown catch. Abbrederis should have another good game against the Beavers, but the Badgers will probably try and get there running game going before they can see what they can do through the air.
7, Mike Taylor, LB (NR): Taylor had a good opener by recording 13 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. The one thing Taylor will remember is that he dropped an interception that he could have returned for a touchdown and missed an assignment that led to a touchdown. Being one of the three defensive captains, Taylor will have to take a step forward and make sure the Badgers get off the field. Against the Panthers, the defense allowed the Panthers' offense to convert two fourth-down conversions on three tries. The two conversions the Panthers had ended in touchdowns. When the Badgers have a chance to get off the field, they need to take advantage of it and Taylor's play in the middle of the defense will have a big say in whether they're able to do that.
Others to Note
CB Darius Hillary - Hillary made his debut as the nickel cornerback - replacing the injured Peniel Jean - and ended up having two tackles. With the Beavers' offense most likely in three receiver formations, Hillary has a chance to see the field often. Bret Bielema has confidence in his young corner and it will be interesting to see how he plays.
RG Zac Matthias - Against Northern Iowa, Matthias and redshirt sophomore Kyle Costigan shared time at the right guard position. But during his Monday press conference, Bielema announced that Matthias is now officially the starter. Matthias played well against the Panthers and with the starting offensive line in place, this will create continuity. Hopefully this results in bigger holes for the running back group.
MLB Chris Borland - Borland is a perfectionist, meaning he'll see how the defense almost lost the game instead of finishing second on the team with seven tackles and a forced fumble. We know Borland will show up this Saturday but like Taylor, we'll see how he and the rest of the defense respond after playing well for three quarters.
FS Dezmen Southward - Southward made his first career start and was playing well until the fourth quarter. Southward missed a tackle in the fourth, which allowed a 55-yard touchdown, that gave the Panthers some life. Bielema has confidence in Southward that he will make sure something like that doesn't happen again. With more experience, Southward should become more comfortable and be able to make the right calls.
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