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Rose Bowl Preview: Wisconsin vs. Oregon

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Wisconsin won the West and made the Rose Bowl, exactly as we all expected

It’s amazing that they can breed flowers like this
Photo by Chris Williams/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Holy cats hello there and welcome to the final chapter of this, your friendly neighborhood Wisconsin Badgers football story for the 2019 campaign. It is only fitting that we arrive here, The Grandaddy Of Them All, the Rose Bowl!

How did we get here?

Dear reader, was there ever even a doubt? In a summer filled with talk of “anyone besides Illinois,” the stalwart of the West overcame drawing the short straw on crossover games and a surprise loss to said Illinois team to once again win the West division and serve as the annual sacrifice to Ohio State.

Wisconsin opened the season on a historic tear, delivering shutout wins in four of their first six games and a blowout of then-No. 11 Michigan in another. The Badgers followed up that first half of the season with a loss at Illinois, something we all agreed was completely reasonable and not at all confusing or hilarious. Following an expected loss to OSU, Wisconsin likely needed to win out the rest of the way to salvage the division crown, and win out they did. Following a typical wrestling match with Iowa and expected wins over rebuilders Purdue, Nebraska, and Minnesota, Wisconsin closed out the season with the best performance an opponent has offered Ohio State all season, and it was enough to earn the Badgers their fourth Rose Bowl bid of the decade.

As for Oregon, it would be tempting to assume they are merely the biggest fish in the small pond that is the Pac-12, but they are actually quite good. While a late-season loss at Arizona State killed any outside hopes the Ducks had for a College Football Playoff bid, Oregon rebounded nicely with an impressive showing against the Utah to secure the Pac-12 bid. And lest we forget, Oregon essentially beat Auburn to open the season!

What should we expect?

On the Wisconsin side, most of those reading are already familiar. The Badgers won’t change who they are, they will continue to establish the offense through Jonathan Taylor and pressure the opponent with an aggressive mix of blitzes on defense. The key battles are mostly between Oregon’s offense and Wisconsin’s defense. Oregon boasts the talents of likely future first round pick Justin Herbert at quarterback and the secondary is Wisconsin’s weakness if you have to pick one. If Oregon can earn at least a stalemate in the trenches and Herbert is on his game this could be a barn burner.

Oregon faithful may be comfortable with the idea of loading up to stop two-time defending Doak Walker recipient Jonathan Taylor, but since the first OSU game Wisconsin has done a good job of making sure to keep defenses honest with effective passing, finally utilizing its under-heralded weapons at tight end and wideout. Perhaps most surprisingly, Wisconsin QB Jack Coan finished the “regular” season with the 3rd best passer rating in the Big Ten and the 8th best completion percentage in the country. Don’t fact check that.

Things to consider

  • Wisconsin has 3-2 all-time record against Oregon, though the Ducks have won the last two. Wisconsin is the 2.5-point favorite for the Rose Bowl.
  • Oregon QB Justin Herbert was this year’s recipient of the William V. Campbell Trophy, given annually to the player with the best combination of academics, community service, and on-field performance and often referred to as the “academic Heisman.” #SMARTBOI
  • Per official NCAA records, which frankly are kinda dumb, Jonathan Taylor needs just 326 rushing yards in this game to finish his career as the all-time record holder (he’s going to the NFL, so it’s over)
  • Assuming Taylor has a normal game (150-200 yards, 2-3 TDs), he’ll finish his NCAA career (yes, he’s def going pro) as the 3rd or, more likely, 4th leading rusher in history, just behind Ricky Williams. Oh and Taylor did it in one fewer SEASON than all the guys ahead of him. Thanks, Purdue and Nebraska!
  • No joke: Wisconsin is on a five-game bowl winning streak, the longest in program history (Outback vs. Auburn, Holiday vs. USC, Cotton vs. Western Michigan, Orange vs. Miami, Pinstripe vs. Miami). If this were the early 2000’s instead of the late 2010’s, you’d think Wisconsin had been on a hell of a run as a Top 5 team.
  • Since football started in the early 90’s, Wisconsin won three straight Rose Bowl appearance followed by losing three straight Rose Bowl appearances. Going back even further than that, Wisconsin lost its first three Rose Bowl appearances. 3-6 lifetime Rose Bowl record is...not awesome.
  • Minnesota has lost 15 of the last 16 Axe games and only two more going back to 1995. Not really relevant to the task at hand, but it’s pretty funny.

Prediction

Beez: Looking at that awesome bullet about Rose Bowls that some totally awesome and handsome guy put in there, it’s clear what’s going to happen. For those of us who took any standardized test in middle school, the pattern is LLL WWW LLL _ _ _? Yes, the answer is WWW. Not only am I predicting a 34-24 Wisconsin win in 2020, I am predicting wins in Wisconsin’s next two Rose Bowl appearances after January 1, 2020.

MC: The aesthetic of this game will look different than the last time these two met at the Rose Bowl, when a balanced Russell Wilson-led offense kept up with Oregon’s cheetah robots but fell just short. This year they have somewhat of a Spiderman jif situation going with stout defenses, great work in the trenches, and strong running games. I think line play wins this one, and I’ll take Wisconsin for that. 27-20 Badgers.

Poll

Who will be the Rose Bowl MVP?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Jonathan Taylor
    (164 votes)
  • 12%
    Justin Herbert
    (28 votes)
  • 10%
    Jim Delany
    (23 votes)
  • 6%
    Other
    (15 votes)
230 votes total Vote Now