Everything You Need to Know for the Rose Bowl
Oregon is no stranger to the BCS, having been to the Rose Bowl and the BCS National Championship in each of the last two years. But the Ducks lost both of those two games and are seeking their first BCS win since the 2002 Fiesta Bowl (38-16 over Colorado).
Additionally, a win on Monday would give Oregon its first Rose Bowl title since 1917, the very first year the Ducks went to a bowl game. This is the Ducks’ seventh consecutive bowl game, going 2-4 in the six years prior to this one. They knocked off UCLA in the first Pac-12 Championship game to earn their third consecutive BCS appearance.
Wisconsin and the Rose Bowl
Wisconsin is also no stranger to the Rose Bowl, making its second consecutive appearance after losing 21-19 last year to TCU. The Badgers have been to a bowl game for 10 straight years before this season, going 4-5 in that stretch. But they are seeking their first BCS win since winning back-to-back Rose Bowls in 1999-2000. In the inaugural Big Ten Championship, Wisconsin won a rematch with Michigan State to return to the Rose Bowl for the second straight year.
Battle of the Stars
Oregon relies on an up-tempo, no-huddle offense that puts lots of points on the board and wears down opposing defenses. The Ducks rank sixth in the nation in total yards and third in scoring. The offense is led by All-American running back LaMichael James who led the nation in yards per game (149.6) and finished fourth in rushing yards (1,646) despite missing two games with a dislocated elbow. James is the school’s all-time leading rusher and needs just 77 yards to top 5,000 in his career. However, he is far from the Ducks’ only weapon. Backup running back Kenjon Barner rushed for 909 yards and 11 touchdowns, while quarterback Darron Thomas added 30 touchdowns and nearly 2,500 passing yards, with just six interceptions. The big-play Oregon offense had 35 touchdown drives this year that consumed more than 70 yards in less than three minutes.
Running Back vs. Running Back
While James is certainly one of the nation’s top offensive weapons, Wisconsin will counter with a top running back of its own. Running behind a massive Badgers offensive line, junior Montee Ball led the FBS with 1,759 rushing yards. He has 38 touchdowns on the season, one shy of Barry Sanders’ all-time record of 39. (Although to be fair, Sanders scored five touchdowns in the Holiday Bowl that year at a time when the NCAA did not count bowl game statistics.)
Russell Wilson, Quarterback for Wisconsin
The acclaimed transfer from North Carolina State made the most of his one year in Madison, completing 72.5 percent of his passes for 2,879 yards. He also threw 31 touchdowns to just four interceptions.
Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst has been hired as the new head coach at Pittsburgh, but has elected to stay with the Badgers through the Rose Bowl.
Oregon and Wisconsin rank third and fifth, respectively, in scoring offense and neither team has been held to less than 27 points this season. The one wildcard could be Wisconsin’s defense, which has been nearly as potent as the offense, ranking eighth nationally in total defense and sixth in scoring. If the Badgers can’t slow down Oregon’s quick strike offense, this could be one of the highest scoring games in Rose Bowl history.
ROSE BOWL GAME PRESENTED BY VIZIO: #10 Wisconsin (11-2) vs. #5 Oregon (11-2)
[Monday, Jan. 2 at 5:00 PM ET on ESPN]