There are lots of storylines into this year’s Rose Bowl game, mainly the tale of the tape between each team’s running game and featured back. Ducks junior running back LaMichael James rushed for 1,646 yards, 17 touchdowns on 222 carries. He led the FBS in yards per game, with 149.6 ypg. The Badgers attack is even more dangerous, with Heisman trophy candidate Montee Ball leading the back field. Ball had a record year, carrying the ball 275 times for 1,759 yards and an unheard 32 rushing touchdowns, which is 2nd in FBS history. Each team had great success through the regular season, scoring at record levels and putting up gaudy numbers each week, with Wisconsin coming into the game averaging 44.6 points per game (4th in FBS) and Oregon averaging 46.2 ppg (3rd in FBS).
Most fans believe that this game will be no different, as it is expected that Oregon and Wisconsin will put up record numbers and points. Usually when a game has those expectations, the game goes the opposite way, becoming a defensive battle, due to both teams emphasizing game plans on keeping each other out of the end zone. The problem with that theory is the fact that Oregon and Wisconsin will surely score; they always do, no matter who the opponent is. It’s simply a matter of who will step up and win the coveted Rose Bowl title.
Last season, Wisconsin played a very tough, hard fought, sustained game in Pasadena vs. TCU. Senior quarterback Andy Dalton led his Frogs to a late heroic win past the Badgers, gaining possibly the biggest win in school history. The one common opponent that the Badgers and Ducks have played this season is the Oregon State Beavers, ironically. Both teams beat the Beavers at home, Wisconsin 35-0, and Oregon 49-21.
I believe this is the most intriguing matchup of the bowl season, as it features many players who will be playing on Sundays. Wisconsin Quarterback Russell Wilson, (If he decides to play football instead of Major League Baseball) threw for 2,879 yards, and 31 touchdowns this season. Since Wilson had already graduated before the 2011 season, he was allowed to transfer and participate right away in the same calendar year for Wisconsin. Most players have to sit out a year or redshirt if they are transferring from one FBS school to another. Under the circumstances, Wilson was given a waver and he took advantage of it. He handpicked Wisconsin as his one year project, and he has led them to the 2nd Rose Bowl in as many years. Wilson’s calm, collected aura and pocket presence is professional, and the Ducks will have to put pressure on him for him to not pick the gang green secondary apart. That will be difficult knowing that the Wisconsin offensive line is much larger and stronger than the defensive line of Oregon. Each team uses different blocking and offensive schemes, and it’s a matter of speed (Oregon) vs. Power (Wisconsin).
Expect the unexpected in this particular matchup, and with the recruiting classes that Oregon head coach Chip Kelly is bringing in, and his 3 year run, (2010 Rose Bowl,2011 BCS National Championship, 2012 Rose Bowl), is taking the Ducks football program to new heights. These Rose Bowl appearances will be commonplace as long as Kelly stays in Eugene.
My Prediction--Oregon wins 41-31