Rose Bowl 2012: Wisconsin Badgers Too Similar to USC for Oregon Ducks
The Oregon Ducks will be facing the Wisconsin Badgers in the 2012 Rose Bowl on January 2, 2012.
That matchup doesn't bode well for the Ducks.
The Badgers are similar to a team that already beat Oregon this season—the USC Trojans. Although Oregon made a valiant second-half comeback, USC was too much for the Ducks.
Oregon is an excellent team, and guaranteeing a loss wouldn't be wise; but the Badgers won't make a Rose Bowl victory very easy either.
The Badgers and the Trojans certainly aren't clones. However, the similarities Wisconsin does have with USC will give Oregon fits.
Nick Toon Is Wisconsin's Robert Woods
Nick Toon is a very different player than Robert Woods. Both are excellent receivers, but Toon is much bigger and more physical. While the speedster Woods has had the better year between the two, both players need to be double-covered in order to be stopped.
In USC's victory over Oregon, Woods did manage to score two touchdowns, but it was freshman Marquise Lee that had the huge day. Lee finished the game with eight catches for 187 yards and a touchdown. Woods, who had 78 yards on seven catches, was a big enough distraction to open up the rest of the field for Lee and the USC offense.
Toon will be in a similar situation. If the Oregon defense doesn't focus in on the him, then he will be in for a great outing. If they do hone in on Toon, then he will open up the passing game for Russell Wilson and Jared Abbrederis.
And just because Wilson doesn't garner the same attention as some other big name college quarterbacks, don't sleep on him.
Russell Wilson Is the Man
Russell Wilson doesn't throw the ball quite as much as Matt Barkley, but he might want to do so against Oregon's 82nd-ranked pass defense. One thing that Wilson and Barkley do have in common—they both have thrown a ton of touchdowns and rarely throw interceptions.
Barkley has thrown 39 touchdowns to seven interceptions. Wilson has 31 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Wilson has the edge over Barkley in completion percentage (72.5 percent to Barkley's 69.1 percent), and he throws the ball much farther per attempt as well (10.14 yards per attempt to Barkley's 7.91 yards per attempt)
Oregon can score quick off of turnovers, so Wilson's efficiency will frustrate Oregon to no end.
Wilson has played lights out this season, but even with 2,879 passing yards under his belt this season, he really isn't the focus of Wisconsin's offense.
USC and Wisconsin do have completely different offenses, but both rank in the upper echelon albeit for different reasons (USC is 21st in total offense and Wisconsin is 15th). USC has a pass-heavy game plan, and Wisconsin is a run-first team regardless of its opponent.
Although Wisconsin's and USC's offenses are dissimilar, they both can put up a ton of points. USC is ranked 17th in scoring offense with 35.75 points per game. Wisconsin is even better scoring 44.62 points per game with the FBS's fourth-ranked scoring offense (Oregon is ranked third scoring 46.15 points per contest).
USC only rushed for 139 yards on 39 carries against Oregon. Facing a team as good as Wisconsin is at running the ball (Wisconsin ranks 10th in rushing), and going up against a player of Montee Ball's caliber could prove too difficult for Oregon's 45th-ranked running defense to handle.
Wisconsin's deadly running attack will help it dominate the time of possesion against Oregon's fast-paced option attack (not that it is worrying Chip Kelly). Both USC and Wisconsin rank in the top 25 in time of possession (17th and 22nd respectively), and like one would expect with Oregon's offense, it ranks dead last.
Oregon ranks fifth in rushing and Wisconsin ranks 46th in rushing defense, though, so Kenjon Barner, youngster De'Anthony Thomas and especially LaMichael James will be able to fire right back.
The Importance of the Offensive Line
With the running game being a focal point of both team's offenses, the play of the offense line could determine the outcome of the game.
Wisconsin's offensive line has played well this season, and like USC's offensive line, Wisconsin hasn't allowed many tackles for loss (it is tied for 19th with 59 total tackles and USC ranks 14th). The Badgers are ranked 55th in sacks, though, and they have allowed 23 on the year.
Although the Oregon offensive line doesn't have any superstars, they have done incredibly well this season, too.
Oregon has similar statistics to Wisconsin but in reverse. Oregon is tied for 48th in tackles for loss allowed with 71 total tackles, but it is ranked 11th in sacks allowed with 13. However, Oregon has a lot of quick developing plays, which can hide pass blocking deficiencies.
Largely because of the massive size of the Wisconsin offensive linemen, the edge goes to the Badgers. Wisconsin will use the big men up front to combat the speed of the Oregon defense. It will be a matchup of speed versus power, but Oregon's offensive line will be able to hold its own as well.
Wisconsin's defensive line doesn't have any real stars either, so Oregon's offensive line should be able to continue opening up holes for LaMichael James like it has done all season.
Defense Wins Championships
Even with ample time to prepare, the Oregon offense is tough to stop. If any team can stifle Chip Kelly's prolific offense, it will be the Badgers.
Wisconsin ranks eight in the FBS for total defense giving up only 293 yards per game. USC ranks a lowly 54th in total defense, but it is better against the run than Wisconsin. USC still wasn't able to stop the Ducks running attack though. Oregon ran for 209 yards against USC.
The Badgers are third in passing defense, sixth in scoring defense and 19th in passes intercepted. Darron Thomas is a capable quarterback, but Oregon will try to run more than usual against a Wisconsin defense that is so good against the pass.
Oregon is tied for 15th in passes intercepted, third in sacks and 26th in tackles for loss, but the Ducks rank just 59th in total defense. Oregon's 59th rank is deceiving though considering how often the Oregon defense is on the field.
In a game that is predicted to big a high-scoring affair, don't be surprised if the defenses show up to play and keep the game close until the very end.