Rose Bowl 2013: Run Defense Will Be Key for Stanford vs. Wisconsin

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Rose Bowl 2013: Run Defense Will Be Key for Stanford vs. Wisconsin
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Anyone who saw what Wisconsin did to Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship Game knows what the Badgers are capable of leading up to their Rose Bowl matchup with No. 6 Stanford.

Surely, Nebraska's run defense doesn't compare to Stanford's elite unit, but rushing for 539 yards and eight touchdowns is frankly incredible against anyone.

However, it's also about momentum, which could see the Badgers make this a game.

Not only did Wisconsin drop 70 points on Nebraska, Stanford uncharacteristically allowed UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin to rush for 194 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries in the Pac-12 Championship Game. The result was a narrow 27-24 victory.

Wisconsin has averaged 5.24 yards per carry (tied for 15th in the nation, via CFBStats.com) while pumping out 37 rushing touchdowns (tied for ninth) this season.

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Will Wisconsin upset Stanford in the Rose Bowl?

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Earlier in the campaign, I wouldn't have cared about this stat, given Stanford held Oregon in check on Nov. 17 (yes, holding the Ducks to 198 rushing yards is an accomplishment this season).

However, perhaps the tables have turned a bit as of late. Wisconsin is coming off a monumental victory that pushed it into a BCS bowl, while Stanford is still trying to figure out what happened against Franklin.

Not only do the Cardinal have to watch out for Montee Ball (1,730 rushing yards, 21 touchdowns) and James White (802 yards, 12 touchdowns), they can't ignore freshman Melvin Gordon, who scampered for 216 yards and a touchdown on nine carries against Nebraska.

It all shapes up to be a fantastic matchup: Wisconsin's rushing attack versus Stanford's run defense. 

You can throw Wisconsin's mediocre 8-5 record out the window. The Badgers are a different team heading into the Rose Bowl and they figure to make life tough on David Shaw's squad.

 

What are your thoughts?

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