The Oregon Ducks routed Utah in the Pac-12 title game and earned their way into the Rose Bowl. But we are certain that doesn’t mean a whole lot to the Wisconsin Badgers, who seemed to have victory in sight against Ohio State but let it slip away.
As these get together in Pasadena on Wednesday afternoon, they still have some unfinished business. And they will kick it off at 5 PM ET on ESPN.
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Let’s look at these two teams:
Oregon Offense for the Rose Bowl Game
The most high-profile guy is, of course, quarterback Justin Herbert. He has been more or less anointed as a first-round draft choice. And he may be the second or third at his position selected. His numbers are good; he’s thrown for 3333 yards on 67% completions. And he takes good care of the ball, having thrown just five INT’s.
The entire offensive line came back, and they did a good job keeping enemy defensive linemen out of the backfield. What the Ducks do in that backfield is very impressive. They have a 1-2 punch in CJ Verdell and Travis Dye that gives them a chance to advance against anybody. Verdell destroyed Utah with 208 yards in the Pac-12 title game.
Wisconsin Defense for the Rose Bowl Game
The Badgers were ranked eighth in the nation in Total Defense. A “fun” fact is that they gave up just 29 points over the first six games of the season. And they were equally adept against the run (3.4 ypc allowed) and the pass (50.8% completions). They’re going to challenge Oregon’s offense. Wisconsin is second toughest in the nation on third down, allowing just 27% conversions.
They get a nice push against the passer, chalking up 49 sacks. And that has the potential to make Herbert uncomfortable.
Here are the numbers….
BetAnySports has posted these Rose Bowl odds, with Wisconsin laying points:
|Wisconsin||-3 (-115)||51½ (-110)||-160|
|Oregon||+3 (-105)||51½ (-110)||+140|
Wisconsin Offense in the Rose Bowl Game
The Badgers have usually had quarterbacks who have been “game managers.” And this year it was no exception. You’d have to say that Jack Coan has been solid in the role. He has completed 70% of his passes, with 17 touchdowns. Importantly, he has tossed just four interceptions.
His top receiver, Quintez Cephus, averaged 16.2 yards a catch. He was expelled last year after being charged with sexual assault. After being found not guilty, he was reinstated. And that may bring lawsuits from his alleged victims.
Running behind All-America center Tyler Biadasz is the star, Jonathan Taylor. Arguably the best running back in the nation, Taylor had 1909 yards this year. And he has AVERAGED 2000 yards for his three seasons, not to mention a whopping 6.7 yards a carry.
Oregon Defense in the Rose Bowl Game
Although they didn’t play such a grueling and physical schedule, the Ducks had great defensive numbers. They allowed only four rushing TD’s, and 3.2 yards a carry. That’s a challenge to Taylor. And if they can limit him on first down, that makes third downs easier.
Oregon intercepted 19 passes. Among the 130 Division I teams, only Florida Atlantic had more. And it was one of the reasons they were 15th in passing efficiency defense. Troy Dye led the team with 75 tackles, but the budding superstar of this defense is Kayvon Thibodeaux, generally considered to be the nation’s top recruit at defensive end, who was named freshman of the year in the Pac-12.
Maybe this is a referendum on Herbert. How good is he? This Wisconsin team can give him a hassle with its pass rush. And Coan, for his purposes, could do more for his team here. He just needs to minimize his mistakes and bad decision. And hand the ball off to Taylor.
Oregon (8th in both punt and kickoff returns) may extract a special teams edge. But we wonder whether the Ducks’ defense may be a bit of a paper tiger. We wouldn’t be surprised if Wisconsin could push them around a little. They might be overvalued, based on their romp against Utah, which had their clock cleaned by Texas on Tuesday night. And Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst is 5-1 SU and 4-1-1 ATS in bowl games.
We’ll move with the Badgers.
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