Wisconsin Bowl Game 2010: 10 Predictions for the Badgers in the Rose Bowl

Kevin TrahanAnalyst IDecember 24, 2010

MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 16: John Clay #32 of the Wisconsin Badgers runs for a touchdown against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Camp Randall Stadium on October 16, 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin defeated Ohio State 31-18. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Wisconsin ends an 11-year Rose Bowl drought this season and heads into Pasadena as one of the hottest teams in college football.

Since a loss to Michigan State on October 2, the Badgers have defeated then-No. 1 Ohio State and then-No. 15 Iowa en route to a fifth-place finish in the final BCS standings.

A win in the Granddaddy of Them All could potentially place the Badgers in the top three after bowl season.

Check out our 10 predictions for Wisconsin against TCU in the Rose Bowl.


10. Scott Tolzien will outpass Andy Dalton

The Rose Bowl features two of the most unheralded quarterbacks in college football. In the "Year of the Quarterback" in the Big Ten, Tolzien was overshadowed by Denard Robinson and Terrelle Pryor, but his passing numbers and big game attitude were just as impressive as anyone in the country. He turned from a game manager to a winner in 2010 and has the weapons at receiver to have a big game.

The TCU defense is stout, but so were the Ohio State and Iowa defenses that Tolzien carved up. Expect Tolzien to lead the game in passing yards and improve his draft status.


9. TCU will come out flat

Save for a 47-7 drubbing of Utah—a team we found out was not that good in the first place—TCU has come out flat in some of its biggest games over the past two years. The Horned Frogs have coasted through an easy Mountain West schedule but have struggled against major conference teams.

They unconvincingly beat bowl-less Oregon State 31-20 on a neutral field to start the season. TCU also gave up 24 points to SMU and won 40-35 against San Diego State at home. A win against Baylor is impressive, but that was before the Bears went on a hot streak.

Most of all, though, TCU has yet to prove itself on the big stage. The Horned Frogs had an opportunity to make a big statement in last year's Fiesta Bowl but lost to Boise State. This year, there's a chance to make an even bigger statement. Will TCU rise to the occasion? That's yet to be known.


8. J.J. Watt will have a huge game

Arguably the best defensive lineman in the Big Ten this year, J.J. Watt has a chance to turn the Rose Bowl into his own personal showcase. The Lott Trophy winner has been consistent all season, racking up 59 total tackles on the year. Against a veteran TCU offensive line, Watt has a chance to prove he is the best defensive lineman in football.

Expect him to rise to the occasion and come up with multiple sacks and a turnover. His presence inside will help keep the TCU passing offense in check, a necessity against a team that is so good through the air.


7. J.J. Watt will announce after the game that he is leaving for the NFL

Who knows—maybe Watt will pull an Adrian Clayborn and come back next season to play for it all. But in this day in age, the "smart" decision is to quit while you're ahead and leave college for the NFL.

Realistically, Watt has already achieved everything he can in college. He's already been named college football's best interior lineman, won the Big Ten championship and will have played in the Rose Bowl.

Wisconsin loses too much to be a serious national championship contender next season, so it seems that the junior Watt has reached his ceiling, at least prestige-wise, this season. Expect him to announce on the field that he is leaving for the NFL.


6. Bret Bielema will go for two after getting a big lead

Okay, maybe not. But after the Minnesota controversy, I had to put this in. Realistically, Wisconsin will never be up by enough for this to be an issue. However, if a situation like this ever presents itself, expect Bielema to throw in the dagger.

Wisconsin isn't afraid to run up the score—it has scored 70 or more points three times this season, including an 83-20 drubbing of Indiana. Some criticize Bielema for embarrassing his opponents, as Minnesota coach Tim Brewster did after Bielema went for two with a big lead. Maybe that was a bit over the top, but regardless of Bielema's "morals," he is a fierce competitor.

It's an admirable trait that has helped Wisconsin become one of the nation's hottest teams. Expect Bielema to be fired up on New Year's Day and to go for a kill shot when he's given the chance.


5. John Clay will rush for over 100 yards

After an impressive start to the season and two Doak Walker-type performances against Ohio State and Iowa, John Clay was forced to sit out the latter part of 2010 with a knee injury. Since then, Montee Ball and James White have carried the rushing load for Wisconsin.

White has compiled over 1,000 yards on the season, and Bielema stated that Ball will likely start in the Rose Bowl. However, Clay will be anxious to get back on the field for the biggest game of his career. Expect him to come in late in the first quarter and stay in for the rest of the game, putting together a solid performance.


4. Wisconsin will lose the turnover battle

Talent-wise, Wisconsin should win this game, and if the Badgers play like they have over the last part of the season, they could win by double digits.

However, TCU will be pumped up and ready for this game, and while Scott Tolzien will throw for a good chunk of yards, he will also throw a few interceptions. Tolzien has been vulnerable to throwing picks this year, and expect TCU to stay in the game because of it.


3. The Wisconsin offensive line will shine

Coming into 2010, the Wisconsin offensive line was considered by experts to be one of the top units in the country. It certainly made its case for No. 1 this year, coming up huge against Ohio State and Iowa, two of the best defensive fronts in the nation.

The TCU defensive line is very stout and presents a tough test for the Badgers. However, expect consensus All-American Gabe Carimi and company to provide big holes for the running game and prove their unit is the nation's best.


2. Dave Doeren will go out in style

Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Doeren will head to DeKalb next season to take over the head coaching position at Northern Illinois. However, he will remain in Madison to coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl.

Doeren's defense was supposed to be a weakness for the Badgers this year, but it came up strong when it needed to, especially against Ohio State.

Both teams are known for their offenses, but expect a defensive battle between two very underrated defenses.


1. Wisconsin 20, TCU 17

Wisconsin will jump out to an early 10-0 lead on the Horned Frogs, who will only be able to add a field goal before halftime. Expect the Badgers to start the second half strong, only to have two Tolzien interceptions bring the Horned Frogs back into the game.

With TCU holding a 17-13 lead in the fourth quarter, Tolzien and Clay will lead their team down the field for a touchdown. Watt will come up with a big forced fumble on the Horned Frogs' final possession, sealing the deal for Wisconsin.