Defense dominates as Oregon State upsets Wisconsin 10-7

Doug Binder, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- If the first game was any indication, the Oregon State defense could be a force in the Pac-12 Conference this season.
On Saturday in front of 42,189 at Reser Stadium, a Beavers defense that ranked 84th nationally in 2011 looked dominant against No. 13 Wisconsin, leading the Beavers to a 10-7 upset victory.
The orange-clad students emptied the stands and rushed onto the field as Oregon State ran out the clock, surviving a few stressful minutes at the end.
"I can't say enough about our offensive line. Our defense played outstanding; they kept giving us possessions," Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion said. "It was an absolute team win."
Wisconsin (1-1), ineffective all afternoon on offense, scored with 1:31 remaining on an 11-yard pass from Danny O'Brien to Jacob Pedersen.
Then the Badgers tried an onside kick that kicker Kyle French appeared to recover himself. But officials reviewed the replay and overruled the call on the field, judging that French touched the ball before it had advanced 10 yards.
That was all Oregon State (1-0) needed. They took a couple of snaps and ran out the clock and ended the Badgers' 33-game nonconference winning streak.
Last year at Camp Randall Stadium in Wisconsin, the Badgers drilled Oregon State 35-0. The teams went in different directions after that. Wisconsin went to the Rose Bowl. Oregon State staggered to a 3-9 season.
This time, Oregon State held Wisconsin and its vaunted power running game to 35 yards rushing.
"It's probably one of the best (defensive performances) that's ever been in that stadium," Beavers coach Mike Riley said.
It started after the opening kickoff, when Wisconsin went three-and-out on its first possession.
"That first play was a boost," Beavers linebacker D.J. Welch said. "It let everybody know we're here to play, we're not joking around and we're here to win."
Wisconsin punted seven times and was 2 of 14 on third-down conversions.
"There just wasn't any room down there," Badgers coach Bret Bielema said. "We didn't handle the pressure very well and they brought some pressure. They did a really nice job of controlling the line of scrimmage."
Wisconsin converted twice on fourth-and-short inside the final eight minutes, but O'Brien's fourth-down pass from the Beavers' 35 with 4:28 left was incomplete.
Earlier, O'Brien was stuffed on a sneak attempt on fourth-and-1 in Oregon State territory with 11:07 left.
Mannion connected with Brandin Cooks on a 20-yard touchdown pass on third-and-7 with 9:33 left in the third quarter. The extra point made it 10-0. At the time, the Beavers had a 334-64 advantage in yards.
The momentum wobbled a bit after that as both offenses struggled to make headway. Oregon State punter Keith Kostol dropped the snap and was buried for a huge loss. Then Wisconsin drove to the OSU 11, but O'Brien fumbled the ball on a hit by the Beavers' Dylan Wynn, and OSU's Scott Crichton recovered it.
After missing its opener last week because Nicholls State was pinned down by Hurricane Isaac, few knew what to expect of an Oregon State team expected to be marginally better than last year.
It was also the first time since 1971 that a team from the Big Ten had visited Corvallis.
Wisconsin was the highest-ranked nonconference opponent to come to Corvallis in 35 years, when the Beavers knocked off No. 13 BYU 24-19 on Oct. 8, 1977.
Montee Ball, Wisconsin's Heisman Trophy candidate, finished with 60 yards on 15 carries and did not score a touchdown, something he did 39 times in 2011. He had scored against the 21 previous opponents.
Mannion, a sophomore, led the Oregon State offense by completing 29 of 47 passes for 276 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Still, the Beavers could have helped themselves out by putting a few more points on the board. OSU missed a field goal and turned the ball over twice on downs inside Wisconsin's 35.
"It wasn't perfect," Mannion said. "But it was a good start. It was just Game 1. Let's see where we can go from here. We still have a long season ahead of us."
NOTES: Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbrederis took a hard hit over the middle and left the game in the second quarter. He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital to be examined for an injury to his chest. On the play after he was hurt, Oregon State's Jordan Poyer blitzed, sacked O'Brien and caused a fumble for a 13-yard loss. ... Oregon State's last win over a Top 25 opponent was Nov. 10, 2010, when the Beavers beat No. 20 USC. ... This was OSU's first win over a Big Ten opponent since 1978, at Minnesota. ... Wisconsin, which produced 207 yards, avoided being shut out for the first time since 1997.