Five Keys to Victory: Oregon State

No.13 Wisconsin is flying cross country for its first BCS nonconference road game since 2005 to take on an energized Oregon State squad itching for payback. Badger Nation gives its Five Keys to Victory.

First let's review our fearless prediction from last week: UW 51, NIU 10. Obviously incorrect. When UW led the game 26-7, the stat sheet did reflect that kind of dominance. But the Badgers did not convert enough touchdowns when in UNI territory – and then gave up two long touchdowns via very bad defensive lapses – to ever match that prediction.

BadgerNation's key to the passing offense, namely: "The safer bet here is for the Badgers to attack the seams between the d-backs and an inexperienced group of linebackers for UNI. Expect Canada and the Badgers to throw for medium gains out of multiple tight end sets and to run basic passing routes for Ball and James White out of the backfield.It won't be surprising if a Badger H-back or tailback gets "lost" in coverage by an UNI linebacker." was dead on and will play the same role in a victory over Oregon State.

Here are Wisconsin's five keys to victory.

1, Blocking on the edge

Or even more directly put: blocking by the wide receivers. A number of Badgers runs to the outside were kept in check by UNI's veteran DBs. Badgers wide receivers were not as adept at blocking as in years past and this kept a few plays from being potential touchdowns or very long gains. Jordan Fredrick and Kenzel Doe (and to a degree Jared Abbrederis) had a very poor time sustaining any blocks. Fredrick and Doe all too often blocked for a certain spot on the field and did not engage and press a man. This resulted in ineffective attempts at "reaching" for a block instead of getting a body into it. This was most clearly seen on a wide receiver screen pass to Abbrederis. Fredrick could not sustain his block and the play went for a two yard loss. The good news for Badgers fans is that much of this is a matter of technique. A good way to judge Coach Zach Azzanni's early success rate for correcting flaws will be to watch Fredrick block against Oregon State. If he can get his body into a DB on running plays it will show growth. Both Fredrick and Doe showed they are pass-catching threats, but UW receivers need to block downfield, especially if the Badgers want to convert more TDs.

2, The Middle Routes

Much like the game plan executed against UNI, expect the Badgers to look to throw the ball to the seams vacated by linebackers. All teams will play for the run against UW, and Oregon State's strength on defense is its front seven. Danny O'Brien continued to demonstrate the aptitude for accuracy in the short passing game he showed in fall camp and against UNI. It will be needed both to keep UNI's linebackers and safeties guessing. The Badgers are a team that has no problem going to a tight end on third-and-22 to go. Abbrederis' long TD catch against UNI was residue of this design, no its chief aim.

3,Making a Defensive Stand in the Redzone

Oregon State will be able to move the ball via passing against UW's defensive backs. That should come as no surprise, but the Beaver's were last in the Pac12 in converting trips to the redzone into TDs in 2011 (48 percent). Expect that to continue this Saturday, especially as this is the first game for Oregon State. No doubt returning quarterback starter, sophomore Sean Mannion, will be better than at the start of 2011, as he improved as the year went on. However OSU's running game is not a strength and neither is the O-Line. As the field shrinks, expect the UW defensive secondary to catch its breath and force field goal attempts. Combine this with the Badgers converting more points in the redzone and you'll have the margin of victory.


Oregon State coughed the ball up 31 times last year, worst in the Pac 12. The Badgers emphasize protecting the ball, and O'Brien seems cut from the same cloth as previous QBs. O'Brien plays it safe, mostly relying on the running game for spectacular plays. The Badgers will win the turnover battle in this game.

5,Settle In

One key to winning on the road in college football, not playing at night, has already been taken care of by the schedule makers. Another, not getting buried early, is in the hands of the Badgers. Run the ball successfully, even against Oregon State's strength, don't turn it over and rely on the steadily improving Badgers' special teams units to keep field position reasonable and there should be no expectation of getting too far behind too early.

Fearless Prediction

Badgers win 31-19. The Badgers convert three touchdowns while the Beavers are forced to try field goals on three possessions, accounting for the margin of victory.

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