The 2012 Rose Bowl will feature a matchup of two top 10 teams in No. 5 Oregon taking on No. 8 Wisconsin (BCS standings), both entering Pasadena, CA with wins in their league championship games. Though it will be a close matchup, the Badgers will win out due to their defensive pressure on the Duck’s rushing attack and Oregon’s inability to stop the Wisconsin passing game.
Wisconsin barely pulled out a 42-39 victory against No. 13 Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship and that scare at the end of the season will leave them battle-tested and ready to knock some heads come January 2nd in the 2012 Rose Bowl.
The Badgers have the fourth ranked offense (44.6 ppg) and sixth ranked defense (17.0 ppg allowed; third ranked passing D at 155 ypg) and will look to the LSU-Oregon game early in the season to key in on LaMichael James and the Duck’s rushing attack (they were held to only 95 total yards rushing in that contest, they average 295.7).
Wisconsin will lean on Offensive All-Americans Montee Ball (RB, 1759 Yds, 6.4 Avg, 38 total TDs) and Kevin Zeitler (OL) to churn up yards against Oregon’s defense, though the big payoffs will come when Russell Wilson airs it out against Oregon’s Swiss cheese secondary (ranked 82nd nationally, allowing over 240 ypg).
With Oregon’s 49-31 drubbing of lowly UCLA in the PAC-12 Championship, they saunter into the 2012 Rose Bowl with a short trip down south. They barely lost to Auburn in the BCS Championship game last season and were hoping to play for it all in LaMichael James’ (likely) last year in Eugene. The letdown of not being in the BCS “Big One” will prove too much for the locker room to rally around.
Though Oregon’s offensive output is barely ranked higher than Wisconsin’s (third at 46.2 ppg), their defense is ranked 48th, allowing 23.6 points per game, and this difference will prove crucial. Though the rushing attacks are equally potent, Oregon’s weak passing defense will prove to be their Achilles heel in this one.
Prediction: LaMichael James, in an attempt to pad his stats for a bump in NFL rankings, will cough up the ball on a crucial drive in the fourth quarter and ultimately seal Oregon’s fate.
Fun with Stats: All-time, the Ducks are 1-4 in the Rose Bowl while the Badgers are 3-4, each losing their last visit (Oregon lost to Ohio State 26-17 in 2010, Wisconsin lost to TCU 21-19 in 2011). The Ducks are 1-3 vs. the Badgers all-time, though they have won the most recent battle in 2001 (31-28 in Eugene).