The Rose Bowl hosts two of the best teams in the country tonight when the (11-2, 6-2 Big Ten) No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers face off against the (11-2, 8-1 Pac 12) No. 5 Oregon Ducks in Pasadena today at 2 p.m. PST.
The game will host a wealth of playmakers on both sides of the ball, but the offenses are stacked with high-level talent. Oregon and Wisconsin have two of the most efficient offenses in the country and have numerous options that make defenses heads spin in preparation.
This Rose Bowl should come close to breaking scoring records by the end of the night, and these five players will be the ones to watch explode on the field and leave the opposing defenses in the dust.
James burst onto the scene as a freshman, rushing for 1,546 yards. Ever since then he has increased his output every season and has become one of the most feared backs in the country. James has rushed for 1,646 yards this season and 17 touchdowns.
He accumulated those yards while sitting out two games with a separated elbow and returned in limited action the following game. James has been an electric runner and has also added some yards in the passing game for Oregon. His ability to fire the gaps and get up field is what separates him from the competition.
Rushing: 222 attempts, 1,646 yards, 7.4 Avg., 17 TDs
Receiving: 17 receptions, 210 yards, 12.4 Avg., 1 TD
Russell Wilson was a senior transfer from NC State this past season and found a home in Madison, Wisconsin. The Badgers were looking for a solid performer to come in and lead there team while Wilson was looking for a shot at a title.
While Wisconsin does not have the chance at a national title this season, they were extremely successful and won the Big Ten conference. Wilson did everything he could to lead his team to victory finishing one of the most efficient seasons in college football history by a quarterback.
Wilson was consistent with all of his throws and allowed for Montee Ball to find a lot of rushing room by opening up the play action pass over the top of defenses. Wilson leads a very dangerous backfield in Wisconsin and finished out his career on a high note as a Badger.
Passing: 206 of 284, 2,879 yards, 72.5 CMP %, 31 TDs, 3 INTs
Rushing: 73 attempts, 320 yards, 4.4 Avg., 5 TDs
Montee Ball has produced one of the best seasons of any running back in Wisconsin history. When you play at Wisconsin, where the halls have been filled with some of the best rushers in NCAA history, that is a large compliment.
Ball has the opportunity to break Barry Sanders all-time touchdown single season record in this game. Ball has been a force from the backfield and has been an explosive and fun back to watch carry the football.
Watch for Ball to have a big game against the Ducks and for the Badgers to rely on him to help guide their success in this game.
Rushing: 275 attempts, 1,759 yards, 6.4 Avg., 32 TDs
Receiving: 20 receptions, 255 yards, 6 TDs
Kenjon Barner has been one of the most prolific second string running backs in the country this season. Barner has accumulated 909 yards this season in a lot of assisted roles to LaMichael James. What makes Barner so special is his ability to keep the same level of speed and quickness on the field when James takes a breather.
Barner also gives the Oregon offense the opportunity to carry two speed backs on the field at once making their speed sweep option virtually impossible to defend. The Ducks will look to use both James and Barner against Wisconsin if they want to score often in the contest. Barner’s ability to catch passes from the backfield is also a huge asset to the Ducks offense.
Rushing: 145 attempts, 909 yards, 6.3 Avg., 11 TDs
Receiving: 15 receptions, 132 yards, 2 TDs
Thomas will be one of the most multiple players on the field for either team in this contest. Thomas has been able to be extremely strong in the rushing attack and also through the air. Thomas is Oregon’s third leading rusher this season and leading pass catcher.
Thomas also is the Ducks return man. He touches the ball as often as possible as his explosiveness is impossible to keep bottled up. The more touches he gets, the better the chances are that he will burn the defense eventually.
Thomas will likely be a large part of the game plan for the Ducks as he has been a major part in their offensive success so far this season.
Receiving: 42 receptions, 571 yards, 9 TDs
Rushing: 53 carries, 440 yards, 8.3 Avg., 5 TDs