Line: Oregon State +7
Oregon State went into Madison last year and got destroyed 35-0, and that score didn’t really even tell the story of how dominant the Badgers were on that day. Big deal. Ancient history. These are two completely different teams that will be matching up in Corvallis on Saturday.
1. This won’t be Oregon State QB Sean Mannion’s first career start in a hostile environment like the game last year was in Madison. It won’t be Wisconsin QB Danny O’Brien's either, but it will be his first in a Wisconsin uniform.
2. Last year Oregon State was very young (they played a school record 10 true freshmen) and according to Phil Steele, no team in the PAC 12 suffered more from injuries last year then the Beavers. Oregon State lost 54 starts to injury in 2011, or 20.45% of starts missed.
3. This should be an improved Oregon State defense. Last year the Beavers couldn’t stop the run. But as stated earlier, the team suffered from a lot of injuries, especially on defense. All three levels of the Beaver defense are now healthy.
4. I would like to say that these two teams are headed in opposite directions, especially because I believe Oregon State will be a much improved team this year. But let’s face it, this is still a very good Wisconsin team.
However, I do not believe they will be as good as they were last season. They lose a lot of talent and experience on both sides of the ball, including six NFL draft choices. I do not place much stock in the first game of the season, but the Badgers did struggle offensively last week to an FCS school and now they travel west to face what should be an improved Beaver defense.
Last but not least, Big Ten schools struggle in PAC 12 country. That is just a fact. The Big Ten is 6-29-1 straight up in regular-season road games against Pac-12 opponents since 1990.
I believe the Beavers will play a good, hard fought game for 4 quarters and keep this one within the number, and possibly, quite possibly, pull off the upset.
Prediction: Wisconsin 31 Oregon State 28