EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 26: Running back De'Anthony Thomas #6 of the Oregon Ducks runs down the sidelines with a pass reception in the third quarter of the game against the Oregon State Beavers at Autzen Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks won the game 49-21 and clinched the Pac-12 North Division. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
As part of our blogger bet, David from Addicted to Quack and I agreed to exchange pieces on our respective teams. The theme of the piece was to be: five things you didn't know about the opposing team that could make the difference in the game. These things aren't necessarily good attributes, in fact in both cases we've listed items that could mean our respective team loses the Rose Bowl, and horribly.
My set of five things about Wisconsin is live over on Addicted to Quack, and below you'll find what David has to say about the Oregon Ducks. Take it away David...
1. The defense is sneaky good - The offense gets all the accolades, but its actually the change in defense that is most responsible for Oregon's success the last three years. Yes, they give up more yards and points than you normally think of a good defense giving up but, given the fast pace of the offense, they also face many more plays than most teams do. To get an apples to apples comparison, take a look at yards per play. The past three years, Oregon has finished first, first, and second in the Pac-10/12 in yards per play, and this despite routinely going 21-22 deep on that side of the football. They also rank second in the country with 43 sacks. Nobody is going to shut down Wisconsin. But when you're Oregon, you only need to hold them down enough times to outscore them. This defense could certainly be up to the task.
2. Oregon's receiving corps is-at best-the second worst in the Pac-12 - Last year's slot receiver, Lavasier Tuinei is now our starter on the outside and has no ability to stretch the field. Last year's #4, Josh Huff, is now Oregon's #2, but has been so injured that he hasn't seen a lot of the field, and never at 100%. The Ducks have been searching for a reliable #3 all season, a trip that has gone through walk-on Justin Hoffman, who started most of the season before being lost due to concussions, fellow walk-on Will Murphy, who will forever be known as a guy who routinely drops screen passes, JuCo transfer Rashaan Vaughn, who didn't do enough to hold down the job, and is currently occupied by Daryle Hawkins, who spent last year at QB and has had his share of the dropsies but has apparently managed better than the others. Only DeAnthony Thomas, who plays a good share at slot when he's not in the backfield, has been a reliable threat. Wisconsin's corners need to cover him. Don't worry so much about the other guys-they are unlikely to hold onto the ball.
3. Jackson Rice is one of the best punters in the nation - Rice is averaging 45.8 yards per punt this season, and only 15 of his 45 punts have even been returned. RB/WR/KR DeAnthony Thomas, arguably the freshman of the year in the nation, is also Oregon's punt return gunner, meaning that those that are returned don't get very far. Getting a stop on Oregon is only half the battle. Starting the next drive deep in your own territory is the other half.
4. The Ducks cannot kick field goals, at all - That USC game, where Alejandro Maldonado missed the 38 yarder to send it into overtime? That wasn't a fluke. 6-11 on field goals on the season, Maldonado is only 2-7 outside of 35 yards. If this game comes down to a field goal, Oregon is in trouble.
5. The Ducks haven't won a Rose Bowl since 1917 - That's 95 years. 95 freaking years. We need this. Don't screw it up for us.