It's been a month of new features here at WiscoBadgers.com as we strive to bring you the best coverage possible and today is another new feature, our Oppositon Q&A feature. We'll ask a series of questions to fellow bloggers and journalists from the opposition to give us, the Badgers fans, a better idea of what they are thinking going into the game. So, with that said, we were lucky enough to get Connor from Building the Dam to join us for this Q&A session. Without further ado, here is the 1st ever Opposition Q&A:
WB: How worried are you after losing to Sacramento State of FCS fame?
Connor: The Sacramento State loss just reiterated everything we were hearing about in Fall Camp: A lot of injuries, and a lot of freshmen. Of course, no one expected to lose to Sacramento State, but once you take a step back and look at those problems, you can understand how it happened.
So, how worried am I about those problems? I don't want to make excuses, but I think with a healthy James Rodgers and Kevin Frahm, we win the game. Rodgers is Quarterback Ryan Katz's favorite receiver to throw to, and I think Katz would have lit up the Hornet Secondary if he was playing. Obviously, Rodgers and Frahm (Not to mention Joe Halahuni) will all be back either this week or the next, so I am not too worried about the injury situation.
I am not too concerned about our freshmen either. We had eight of them play against the Hornets, and two of them, Malcolm Agnew and Trevor Romaine, had costly errors for the Beavers. While the Beavers were driving down the field for the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth Quarter, Agnew fumbled the football, something previous Beaver-Running Back Jacquizz Rodgers only did once in his Oregon State career.
Romaine's major error came on the next possession, where all Oregon State had to do was kick a field goal to win the game. The 22 yard field goal bounced off the right upright as time expired, sending the game to Overtime.
While both of them made mistakes, they also had great days for playing their first college game, which is why I'm not concerned about them. Agnew still rushed for 223 yards and three touchdowns, while Romaine made two field goals, two extra points, and put all of his kickoffs into the endzone.
WB: Sean Mannion(true frosh QB) looked the part in his debut but HC Mike Riley says both QB's will play. What are the strength's and weaknesses of each QB and who do you see being better against Wisconsin?
Connor: Sean Mannion looked best on Saturday in just his control of the offense. While Katz looked jittery and confused at some points, Mannion always stayed calm and just had a nice control of the game. The best QB's have the game slow down for them when they are playing, and I think that definitely happened to Mannion.
I didn't see Mannion display a weakness on Saturday, but that doesn't mean he won't have any when he is playing in Madison. A true-freshman QB going into the hornet's nest (No pun intended, okay, yes there was) that is Camp Randall, on national TV, could be too much to handle for him.
Katz's strength could very well be the opposite of Mannion's weakness. Katz has played under pressure before (BYU in Las Vegas, TCU in Arlington, Stanford in Stanford, and Oregon in Corvallis), so he won't be intimidated by the 80,000 at Camp Randall.
While I don't think there is a weakness in Katz's physical ability, his biggest problem could be his head. Ever since the Arizona game last season, when he lost his favorite target in James Rodgers and threw an interception, he has just hasn't looked 100%. All we can do is hope that he will be all right again when Rodgers returns.
I think that Katz will be the better QB against Wisconsin. I think that Katz became too complacent over the off-season, knowing that the starting job was his and he would never lose it. I think that because of Mannion's success on Saturday, Katz will wake up and have one of the best games of his Oregon State career against the Badgers.
WB: Do you see a matchup against Wisconsin that favors the Beavers?
WB: How big a deal will the 9amPT start be for this team?
Connor: It will be a pretty big deal. I remember looking at this game back in April and thinking, hey we might have a shot in this one. Then Russel Wilson transferred, and I was like, okay we have about a 10% chance of winning. And then ESPN scheduled the game for 9:00 AM, and we went from 10% to 1%.
Personally, I've never played a game in another time zone, so I wouldn't know what it is like. But in 2005 Oregon State played at Louisville in a 9:00 AM game and lost 63-27, so it appears that it does matter a lot.
WB: Who are some players on the defensive side of the ball that the Badgers should watch for?
Connor: I would say Castro Masaniai. Masaniai may be serving a one game suspension due to a domestic violence arrest and misdemeanor conviction from back in May, but I have a feeling that he won't serve it until the UCLA game in two weeks.
On Saturday, Masaniai looked great. He was quick off the ball, had one sack, and blocked the only field goal attempt from the Hornets. He's definitely someone to watch on Saturday.
WB: What are your expectations for this game? A score?
Connor: Simply put, I have very low expectations for this game. However, there is a chance (1%) that Oregon State can win, especially if they follow the formula that Arizona State used last year in Madison. I think the keys for the Beavers will be simple, but important. We need to establish the run early, which Mike Riley will almost definitely do, and we need big games from both Katz and Mannion. Those things sound simple enough.
Where it gets tricky is the defensive side of the ball. This is one of the rare cases where I think that the Beaver D should work all week long on defending the pass, since we were God-awful against it last Saturday. I know Wilson can run, but if our DB's magically improve and stop the long pass plays, and our line can somehow stop Montee Ball, Wilson, and James White, then we have a shot.
Unfortunately, I don't think any of the above things will happen! I think that the Badgers establish the ground game early, which Oregon State will eventually figure out. Unfortunately, once they do that, Wilson is going to torch them through the air. I expect a two-touchdown lead for Wisconsin at the end of one quarter, and for them to double that by Halftime. From there, Oregon State could make it a little closer with Wisconsin playing their backups.
Prediction: Wisconsin-35, Oregon State-10